Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is particularly important to treating and managing the disease so that it does not become "terribly debilitating", according to the chief executive of one charity.
Arthritis Care boss Neil Betteridge explained that while the condition can prove crippling for many sufferers, the standard of care available has improved dramatically over recent years.
"Unlike ten or 20 years ago, the therapies in rheumatoid [arthritis] especially are really quite powerful and very effective," he observed. "It is a very frustrating problem because to a large degree it is quite solvable."
Mr Betteridge expressed dismay at healthcare authorities' continuing failure to put the necessary programmes and investment in place to ensure the progress of the illness is slowed to protect sufferers' quality of life.
Earlier this week, research published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases criticised "unacceptably long" delays in specialist assessment of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis across eight European countries.