multiple sclerosisA new survey has highlighted that the lack of engagement with specialist services of some patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a concern for MS-specialists.

The research found that 93% of healthcare professionals with expertise in MS believe that there are people with the condition who are missing out on MS services; including access to new medicines, symptom control and holistic services that can be offered by the MS team.

To help address this issue, a new initiative funded by Biogen and developed alongside clinical experts is launching called the 1MSg campaign. The campaign aims to highlight the benefits of regular and quality engagement with MS-specialists in order to ensure people are making informed decisions about their disease-management based on the latest information. The one message at the heart of the campaign is: ‘Take Control, Know Your Choices’.

Dr Martin Duddy, a Consultant Neurologist specialising in MS said: “We know there are a significant number of people with MS who have lost touch with their specialist support team. The danger is that they may be missing out on treatments and care that could help to change the trajectory of their disease, preventing relapses and slowing down progression and disability. The way we manage the condition has changed a great deal.

"This includes the support services we offer such as occupational therapy or dietetics, how we control or treat symptoms, how much we understand about the disease and its progression through technology such as MRI, and what we’re able to offer in terms of treatments to help alter the course of the disease. I want to encourage all people living with MS to regularly see a member of their local MS team."

Previous research by the MS Trust found that nearly a fifth of people with MS had not seen a MS-specialist nurse (MSSN) or a neurologist in the past year, and so will not have received the comprehensive annual review recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In addition to this are the people not covered by an MSSN caseload.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Health on behalf of Biogen, amongst 100 neurologists and nurses, revealed that 97% think there are people who could benefit from reconsidering how they manage their disease in light of how the MS landscape has and continues to evolve. The progression of MS can be unpredictable and can vary from individual-to-individual, and therefore monitoring is important but magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology means signs of disease progression are no longer as ‘unseen’.

Such technology has enabled MS experts to monitor the disease much more closely, allowing for optimal intervention to try to slow deterioration. A recent report published by the MS Society demonstrated that there is now consensus amongst thought leaders in MS to indicate that early treatment is key in improving long-term health and wellbeing, slowing down irreversible damage, and reducing relapses (presence of MS symptoms).

According to the survey results, the top benefits of regular engagement with MS-specialists are:
• Access to ongoing education to help people understand the disease
• Advice on the management of MS symptoms
• Regular monitoring of disease progression, including identifying relapses
• Regular reviews and advice regarding treatment options, and advice on relapse management.

As part of the campaign, educational materials will be delivered to GP surgeries and MS centresacross the country to help spread the campaign message – find out more