Multiple Sclerosis Report Highlights High Cost of Care in UK

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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MS hospital care

A new report, written jointly by the NHiS Commissioning Excellence and the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Trust, highlights the healthcare costs of emergency hospitalization of MS patients in the United Kingdom and points to more cost-effective and better ways to care for this patient population. The executive summary and full report are available at the NHiS website.

MS is a debilitating condition that affects the central nervous system, where the coating around the neurons (myelin) is damaged, resulting in a range of both intellectual and physical symptoms affecting vision, speech patterns, balance, movement, and memory. While the causes of the disease are unknown, researchers believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors are at play.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS, in its recognized relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, and primary progressive types, affects more than 100,000 people in the U.K.  Being a long-term disease, MS often requires hospital admissions for reasons that commonly include respiratory and urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and MS itself. Healthcare for MS patients, especially in emergency unplanned visits, came at a cost of £43 million to the National Health Service (NHS) in 2013-14.

The report gathered data both nationally and locally from the English Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database to provide healthcare policy-makers with up-to-date information in determining appropriate changes in MS treatment and services. The authors suggest that focusing on identifying at-risk patients, re-organizing medical staff, ensuring MS nurses have manageable caseloads, addressing issues before a crisis, and offering more proactive and preventive care are of importance in ensuring quality care and reducing MS-related costs.

Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development at the Multiple Sclerosis Trust, said in a press release: “Our report shows that if more emphasis was placed on anticipatory care for MS patients, many of these hospital admissions could be prevented. This would reduce NHS costs and vastly improve quality of life for people with MS. MS nurse specialists are ideally placed to identify at-risk patients and to address issues before the onset of a crisis, with help from GPs [general practitioners], neurologists, allied health professionals and community services. We need to ensure that the NHS is channeling this expertise into providing more proactive care for MS patients.”

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