Two thirds of UK rheumatology patients are waiting too long to see a specialist, a report shows.
The audit of over 6,000 patients carried out by the British Rheumatology Society found that 1 in 6 patients were referred by their GP within 3 days.
However one quarter of patients waited more than 3 months to be referred and only 38% were seen by rheumatology services within the recommended three weeks after referral.
Just over half of patients were treated with disease modifying drugs within six weeks.
Primary care needed training and support in order to raise awareness of the early signs and symptom of inflammatory arthritis, the report said.
Rheumatology services and providers should also assess how to increase clinical capacity.