At his visit to the the Rheumatology Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital today, Northern Ireland Health Minister Simon Hamilton met with staff and patients. The Rheumatology Unit provides diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the joints, muscles, bones, and tendons including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lupus.

The Minister commented:

“Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive and disabling auto-immune disease. The treatment of rheumatologic conditions pose an ever increasing challenge to the Health Service and the condition can affect people of any age. There are over 600 children and young people suffering from arthritis in Northern Ireland alone.

“Treatment of chronic conditions such as arthritis is a multi-faceted process which involves the services of a range of professionals including GPs, nurses, pharmacists, physio and occupational therapists. As Health Minister, I am well aware of the great work which has been done by those involved in the treatment of RA and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication.”

During the visit to Musgrave Park Hospital, the Minister also went to the Communication Advice Centre (CAC) which is a regional service for N. Ireland offering Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) assessment and support for clinicians undertaking AAC intervention.

AAC covers a wide range of techniques which support or replace spoken language. These include gestures, signs, symbols, communication books and powered solutions such as voice output systems.

During his tour of the centre, the Minister met with service users. He said:

“Today I have seen at first hand the good work that the CAC does and how this work contributes to improving the lives of people with disabilities.

“I have met service users who have told me about the invaluable help and support they have received from the CAC and their communication device.”