I appreciate your concerns and I appreciate that this can be very painful and debilitating condition.
I completely agree that aids and adaptations can greatly enhance the quality of life for people with arthritis. An independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), which supports disabled people on low incomes, has recently been completed. You may be pleased to know this review considered how the DFG may need to adapt to changing innovation and technology in the aids and adaptions market. The Government are now analysing these recommendations, and I look forward to studying their conclusions.
Funding for DFG increased from £220 million in 2015 to 2016 to £431 million in 2017 to 2018 and is rising further to £505 million by 2019 to 2020. However, I recognise there is more to do. Clinical guidelines for arthritis highlight the importance of self-management, and to help patients manage their condition, and live independently as possible.
The Department for Work and Pensions ensure that people with arthritis applying for Personal Independence Payments are able to specify whether they need specific aids to help them with daily, physical tasks – making sure that they get the right support to improve their quality of life while maintaining their independence.
As I am sure you are aware, the Prime Minister recently announced the Government’s intention to provide the NHS with an additional £33.9 billion by 2023/24; this is the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS. This landmark investment to help secure the long-term future of our NHS is extremely welcome, and I hope you agree it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to properly funding out NHS and public services: health is the Government’s top priority.
Alongside this, the NHS was asked to undertake a clinical review of standards relating to waiting times. This must be clinically led to enable best, and safest, delivery of care of patients. I understand that NHS England has now prepared proposals, covering waiting times across the service, including elective procedures, mental health, cancer and A&E.
The Government will now carefully consider the proposals before taking any next steps, and in the meantime will continue to hold the NHS to account on its existing standards.