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The number of people living with MS in the UK increases

Adapted from an MS Trust Newsletter article May 2024

A new study has discovered the number of people living with multiple sclerosis in the UK has increased by nearly 13%.*

The latest UK MS prevalence figure, which considers the number of people living with MS at any one time, is now estimated to be over 150,000. The previous figure, published by the MS Society in 2019, was 130,000.

The sharp rise is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including better diagnosis and people with MS living longer, rather than an increase in the risk of developing MS. 

Further findings from the new data are listed below.

  • All four UK nations have seen a rise in the number of people living with MS.

  • There’s been a 15% increase in England, 10% in Scotland, 9% in Northern Ireland and 8% in Wales.

  • More than 7,100 people are diagnosed with MS each year.

  • Around 135 people are told they have MS every week.

  • 71% of people with MS are women, meaning women are 2.5 times more likely than men to be diagnosed with MS.

  • People are most likely to be diagnosed in their 30s and 40s.

This latest data highlights the ongoing concerns of the MS Trust at the insufficient resourcing of NHS neurology and MS services across the country. The UK currently ranks 44 out of 45 European nations for the number of neurologists for each person with a neurological condition. Together with the MS Society, the MS Trust is calling for shortages in neurologists and MS nurses to be addressed by the Government. 

The MS Trust have been tackling the shortage of MS specialists for many years and are actively working to address the problem through the Specialist Nurse and Advanced MS Champion programmes.  These schemes part fund MS health professionals in areas of the country with the greatest need and are proven to save the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in emergency care.

It is vital that NHS leaders and political parties recognise this escalating problem and develop MS services which meet the needs of the people living with this chronic condition.

Lucy Taylor, MS Trust CEO, comment on the increase:

“These new figures highlight a problem we already knew existed. There are simply not enough neurologists and MS specialists to support people living with multiple sclerosis. Every day, our helpline hears from people living with MS, struggling to get access to the care they need. This is just not acceptable.

We fully support the MS Society in their call for the Government to urgently address the shortage of neurologists and MS specialists in the UK.”

*Established using data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) Database (a Cegedim Property Database). This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.

Here at The Brightwell, we whole heartedly support both the MS Trrust and MS Society in their campaign to have more Neurologists , MS Nurses and more general NHS Support.

If anyone is struggling, the team at The Brightwell are always here to help.


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