A vast majority — 7 out of every 10 — healthcare professionals working with multiple sclerosis (MS) patients across the U.K. believe health services are failing to meet their needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an online survey conducted by the MS Society and the MS Trust.
The survey, which ran June 2–21, gathered opinions from 181 MS professionals, including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and service managers. Most respondents were from England, followed by Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Nearly three quarters (73%) felt rehabilitation services were the most common type of MS care to be canceled, delayed, or limited during the outbreak, and 76% said restoring these services back to pre-pandemic capacity should be a priority.
However, more than half (67%) did not known when such services would return to prior capacity, while 18% expected a wait of at least seven weeks.
“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,” Fredi Cavander-Attwood, policy manager at the MS Society, said in a society press release.
“But the needs of people with MS have not disappeared and we fear the long-term impact on their health and wellbeing,” Cavander-Attwood added. “The Government must also ensure, when planning for a second wave of the pandemic, that it factors in protection for essential rehabilitation services.”
This survey’s findings were in agreement with those of a separate U.K. survey, recently released by the Neurological Alliance. In that survery, 72% of people with neurological diseases, including MS, reported having medical appointments canceled during the outbreak, and 43% said they had not been given a new meeting date.
“We’re hearing first-hand from people with MS who feel that their health and wellbeing has deteriorated during the pandemic because they have been unable to access the life-changing rehabilitation services they rely on,” Megan Roberts, head of the Health Professionals Programmes at the MS Trust, said in its press release.
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