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Infographic showing prevalence of MS in the UK

Research shows rise in number of people estimated to be living with MS

Today we’ve published research suggesting more than 130,000 people are living with MS in the UK - 20% more than previously thought.

The UK MS prevalence figure, which measures the number of people believed to be currently living with MS, was previously thought to be 110,000.

More people are being diagnosed with MS

The estimated number of new cases of MS identified each year has also increased from 5,000 to 6,700.

This means one in every 500 people in the UK is living with MS, with about 130 people diagnosed every week on average.

Where do these figures come from?

We worked with Public Health England (PHE) to produce the new figures. Using 2018 patient information taken from a GP database, PHE applied the number of people identified as having MS to the population of England as a whole. We used the same research method to estimate UK-wide figures.

But the new figures don’t mean the risk of developing MS has increased. The rise is likely to be due to a number of factors. These include improvements in the way MS is diagnosed, better recording of medical data, and the fact that people are living longer with MS.

“Too many people are struggling”

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, our Director of Research and External Affairs, said:   

“While the NHS is getting better at diagnosing and recording cases of MS, in many ways society is getting worse at supporting people with the condition.

“Compared to just a few years ago, fewer people with MS receive social care support and key welfare payments. And we hear far too many stories of people struggling to stay in work without the adjustments they need.”

“The Government to step up and create an expanded and sustainable social care system, overhaul the way benefits are assessed, and strengthen rights for employee support.”

Download our MS in the UK report