The NRAS Blog

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A few predictions about our lobbying priorities...

I love the 2005 film ‘Thank You for Smoking’. It's about a smooth-talking tobacco lobbyist who marauds across Capitol Hill, boozing and bribing everyone in his path. Great to watch, but probably not the best lobbying tactic to imitate.

Megalomaniac dreams aside, it has been an extremely busy first few weeks for me, as NRAS’s newly appointed Government Affairs Manager. It started with a priority setting meeting convened by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence’s Patients in NICE group. This was swiftly followed by a meeting of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance’s Policy Board, and it culminated last week with my very first attendance at the annual British Society for Rheumatology conference, where I heard about the latest RA research and attended a number of debates about the possible impacts of the new NHS reforms being brought in by the Coalition Government.

It may have been a bit of a baptism of fire, but it has undoubtedly been a great introduction to the policy issues surrounding RA and it has definitely given me plenty of food for thought over what our lobbying goals should be over the next 12-months. So, based on these initial forays, I’m going to gaze into my crystal ball, adopt my best Mystic Meg voice, and predict a few things I think you will see NRAS doing more of in the coming months:

1. More campaigning in the Devolved Nations. There remains plenty to do in England, but we also know there’s plenty to do in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Following the elections, expect to see NRAS working hard to raise awareness about RA among the new parliamentary intakes and the new devolved governments.

2. Lobbying across a wider cross-section of issues. There is no doubt about it, as spending cuts begin to bite, and benefit entitlements change, we are seeing more people with RA suffering financial hardship and a reduced quality of life. Expect to see NRAS doing more work around the welfare reforms and holding the UK Government to account.

3. Greater involvement of our members in direct campaigning. Lobbying is never more powerful and effective then when it is expressed locally by those who know most about the debilitating effects of this disease: the people with RA themselves. Expect to see NRAS making strides to improve the range of e-campaigning tools on our website and get more members and supporters directly involved in face-to-face meetings with decision-makers.

4. More work with the national media. ‘The Year of RA’ was a stunning achievement, with the King’s Fund report, an National Audit report and a Public Accounts Committee report all happening in quick succession, alongside the publication of a NICE Clinical Guidance on the management of RA. However, since 2010, the NHS reforms have pushed other health matters from the spotlight. Expect to see NRAS fighting back by doing more activities to generate media coverage and high-level debate, and making use of our ‘One Year On’ report recommendations.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a clairvoyant? Why not add your own predictions to this comment piece below. Alternatively why not get in touch with me at for your own unique tarot reading...

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