Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, recently joined the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) at their parliamentary reception. The event saw the launch of the ‘AS it is: patient voice & patient choice’ campaign as well as the inaugural UK-wide Patients’ Choice Awards, voted for by people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

The reception was an opportunity to discuss local issues for people with AS, and pledge support for the implementation of Clinical Guidelines for Spondyloarthritis which are due to be published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in Spring 2017.

AS is a form of inflammatory arthritis which mainly affects the spine. It is a painful, progressive, long term condition which can have a major impact on the lives of those who have it and those around them. There is no cure for AS, instead anti inflammatory medication combined with regular physiotherapy and exercise are the cornerstones of treatment. Around 200,000 people in the UK have AS, with symptoms tending to first appear during late teens or early twenties. AS is a life-long condition.

The current average delay to diagnosis for AS in the UK is eight and a half years; Patient Voice & Patient Choice is a parliamentary campaign to raise awareness of the condition but also to ask MPs to pledge to help to reduce this delay by working with their local NHS Trusts.

At the event, Caroline was able to meet with constituent Claire Jeffries of Queen Alexandra Hospital, who was awarded Best Care by a Physiotherapist in the Patients’ Choice Awards, to congratulate her on this achievement. Ms Jeffries was also part of the award winning team from Queen Alexandra Hospital who won the award for Best AS Clinic.

Caroline said:

“It was fantastic to attend the launch of the ‘AS it is: patient voice & patient choice’ campaign as well as to congratulate our local winners.

AS affects so many people and it is fantastic to see that those who care for sufferers are getting the recognition they deserve.”

Debbie Cook, NASS Chief Executive said:

“I am delighted to see both Claire and the team who run the AS Clinic at Portsmouth receiving these awards.  I have seen first-hand how hard this team work and how passionate they are about providing their AS patients with excellent care. 

It was great to see this passion and dedication reflected in the patients’ nominations”.

For more information about the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society please visit