Multiple sclerosis campaigners, led by the MS Society, are celebrating a significant victory.
They opposed plans to delay access to disease modifying therapies (DMTs) for people newly diagnosed with MS in Northern Ireland. This is a UK area where certain powers, including responsibility for the National Health Service, are devolved from central government.
And, the decision-makers listened.
In the face of mounting objections, including a petition, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) has made a U-turn. It dropped its highly controversial plans.
An MS Society statement says the announcement (to drop the plans) is a victory for the MS community. It says thousands of people came together across the UK to oppose the plans.
It all started in August, when the BHSCT announced plans to delay access to DMTs as part of a range of cost-saving measures.
“The BHSCT holds the budget for the prescribing of all DMTs, so this would have led to delays in accessing DMTs for people across the country,” the MS Society explained.
Since then, 5190 members of the MS community signed the society’s petition asking the BHSCT to reconsider its position.
U-turn prompted by protests
The MS Society went to public meetings to raise concerns It held its own meeting with representatives from all political parties. And, it spoke in the media about how the plans would affect the MS community.
Also, the society submitted a written response to the BHSCT’s consultation on the proposals.
Although the action taken by the society is to be congratulated, and the U-turn is most welcome, the fight goes on. Many other services used by people with MS remain at risk.
For example, also in Northern Ireland, you have to wait too long to see a consultant neurologist. Meanwhile, across the UK, people with MS need to fight for the treatments, care, and support they need. That shouldn’t happen, it is ridiculous. It is plainly wrong. We need another U-turn here
We, people with MS, must stand up to fight for our health, our rights. And I commend the MS Society’s call to action. “It’s so important that, together, we continue to speak up for MS,” it says.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.