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MS services failing to implement NICE guidelines, audit shows

10 October 2011 - 5:06pm

Services for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have shown little improvement in recent years, according to the results of a national audit conducted by the Royal College of Physicians and the MS Trust.

The report analyses the responses of 704 service users and a range of providers. It compares the results to earlier audits, which took place in 2006 and 2008.

Just over half the service users (57 per cent) said they had access to specialist MS physiotherapists, while almost all (93 per cent) reported having access to specialist nurses.

Patients missing out

CSP practice and development unit head Claire Strickland said physiotherapy was crucial for MS patients and the audit showed patients were ‘missing out on services they clearly need’.

‘People with multiple sclerosis require access to a multidisciplinary team, including physios, and this can make a real difference to the management of their symptoms,’ Ms Strickland said.

NICE guidelines

The audit also found that, alarmingly, no progress has been made on implementing MS guidelines that were issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2003.

Key aspects such as pain, fatigue and cognition are not well treated, the report notes. Though those with MS lose an average of 18 years of their working lives and most lack access to specialist vocational rehabilitation.

Siobhan Macauley, chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology (ACPIN) said she was disappointed at the report’s findings.

‘It is extremely disappointing that despite the guidelines being around from 2003 that none of the six key recommendations by NICE have been widely implemented and that there has been no major improvement in many aspects of the service since the guidelines in 2006,’ she said.


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