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People with MS are being denied vital support because of COVID-19

Today, in partnership with the MS Trust, we’ve released new evidence showing the impact of COVID-19 on essential rehabilitation services for people with MS.

Working with MS Trust and MS healthcare professionals

We worked with the MS Trust to survey healthcare professionals across the UK. The survey found that seven in ten UK MS healthcare professionals (70%) believe the MS service they work in, or with, is not currently able to meet patients’ needs to the extent it was pre-pandemic.

Nearly three quarters (73%) think neurological rehabilitation services have been impacted by the pandemic, with appointments having been either limited, delayed or cancelled. And 76% of those surveyed said resuming these vital services back to pre-COVID-19 capacity must be a priority. You can read the report in full on our evidence pages.

Data from the UK MS Register also shows around a third of people with MS have been struggling to stay physically active during the pandemic, with many people shielding.

People with MS are being denied vital support

Behnaz, who has relapsing MS and lives in London, said: “Overnight I’d gone from being such an active person to only being able to walk the dog once a morning. I did get a virtual physiotherapy appointment in April, but after just two sessions – in which we didn’t talk about the help I needed for my weak left leg or right hand – I was told I needed to be referred to somebody else, and I haven’t heard anything since.

“I really don’t want to lose my abilities as keeping mobile means absolutely everything to me...being so inactive has had a huge impact on my mental health – I could really just do with some expert help.”

We’re calling for change in the NHS

Fredi Cavander-Attwood, Our Policy Manager, said: “Many people with MS rely on rehabilitation to manage their chronic symptoms, stay active and maintain their independence.

"Such services, especially face-to-face care, have understandably been limited or cancelled to protect people and free up NHS capacity during the pandemic. But the needs of people with MS have not disappeared and we fear the long-term impact on their health and wellbeing.

“The NHS needs to show the same leadership it has with cancer and fertility services, by helping local services and professionals overcome the challenges they face in safely resuming these vital therapies. The Government must also ensure, when planning for a second wave of the pandemic, that it factors in protection for essential rehabilitation services.”

Share your story

Have you had to go without essential support during the pandemic?

We want to hear from you if you haven’t been able to access physiotherapy, occupational therapy, support to stay physically active, or help with diet, speech or language.

Email us at [email protected] to share your experiences.