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Putting MS at the heart of the national elections

Michelle Mitchell OBE

It may seem like no time at all since the 2015 UK General Election but for campaigners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there are important elections just around the corner.

The elections for the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales take place on 5 May and the decisions made at these national legislatures have an ever increasing impact on people’s lives.

Campaigning hard

With polling day less than a month away, our campaign teams are hard at work speaking to election candidates and outlining the key changes needed to support people living with MS.

This has helped to raise the profile of MS in the nations and it has been great to see the level of support our campaigns have received from politicians and campaigners.

Getting loud in Scotland

In Scotland, we are calling on candidates to ‘Get Loud for MS’ if elected to Parliament. The powers at Holyrood already cover areas such as health, social care and local government and are set to be extended further. This will see greater powers over tax and spend, including some aspects of welfare, being devolved to Scotland.

The ‘Get Loud for MS’ campaign asks candidates to sign up to key asks on supporting person-centred and community-based care, giving people with MS a strong voice in how services are designed and delivered, and using newly devolved powers to create a fairer and more empowering Scotland for people affected by MS.

End the wait in Northern Ireland

Waiting times are at the fore in Northern Ireland. Two-thirds of people with MS in Northern Ireland are waiting over 18 weeks for their first appointment with a neurologist. Nearly half are waiting longer than a year. Further to this 36% of people are waiting longer than a year past their recommended check-up date.

These figures are worrying and show why it is important for us to raise this issue with Assembly candidates. Our “End the wait” campaign calls on them to create of an MS network in Northern Ireland which provides equal access to MS specialist, treatments and support services.

Be a voice for change in Wales

We are calling on candidates in Wales to be a ‘Voice for Change’ if elected to the National Assembly and help to raise awareness of MS, creating stronger links between Assembly Members and the MS Community.

We are building on the great work of our previous campaigns ‘Treat Me Right’ and ‘MS: Enough’ and putting these campaigns at the heart of the manifesto.

You can get involved

The campaigns across the nations may be different, but the aims of trying to improve conditions for people living with MS remain the same.

> Join our campaigns community to stay up-to-date and take actions