Research shows rise in number of people estimated to be living with MS

By agency reporter
February 6, 2020

The MS Society has published research suggesting more than 130,000 people are living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK - 20 per cent more than previously thought.

The UK MS prevalence figure, which measures the number of people believed to be currently living with MS, was previously thought to be 110,000.

The estimated number of new cases of MS identified each year has also increased from 5,000 to 6,700. This means that one in every 500 people in the UK is living with MS, with about 130 people diagnosed every week on average.

The MS Society worked with Public Health England (PHE) to produce the new figures. Using 2018 patient information taken from a GP database, PHE applied the number of people identified as having MS to the population of England as a whole. The same research method was used to estimate UK-wide figures.

The new figures do not mean the risk of developing MS has increased. The rise is likely to be due to a number of factors. These include improvements in the way MS is diagnosed, better recording of medical data, and the fact that people are living longer with MS.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, MS Society Director of Research and External Affairs, said: “While the NHS is getting better at diagnosing and recording cases of MS, in many ways society is getting worse at supporting people with the condition.

“Compared to just a few years ago, fewer people with MS receive social care support and key welfare payments. And we hear far too many stories of people struggling to stay in work without the adjustments they need. The Government [needs] to step up and create an expanded and sustainable social care system, overhaul the way benefits are assessed, and strengthen rights for employee support.”

* Download the report here

* The MS Society https://www.mssociety.org.uk/

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