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09 October 2014 09:39
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) should be seen more often by their doctors, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) should be seen more often by their doctors, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said.
The Institute has issued new NHS guidelines which state those diagnosed with MS should have access to a "comprehensive review" of their care once a year or more, regardless of where they live.
MS can be a "highly disabling condition" which affects around 100,000 people in Britain, according to Nice's clinical practice director, Professor Mark Baker.
Those affected usually develop their first symptoms when they are in their 20s. Most people experience periods of relatively good health alternating with periods of relapses.
Typical early symptoms include :
:: limb weakness
:: lack of coordination
:: loss of sight
:: bladder and bowel problems
Because of the disease's unpredictable nature, it is recommended that holidaymakers suffering from it take out specialist travel insurance for multiple sclerosis before embarking on a trip.
The new NHS guidance also includes a number of other recommendations, such as giving all patients a single point of contact with whom they can talk about any concerns they may have, or discuss different treatment options.
People suspected of having MS should be referred to a consultant neurologist, Nice says, and patient care should be overseen by multi-disciplinary teams of GPs, psychologists, MS nurses, neurologists, physiotherapists, as well as occupational and speech therapists.
MS patients often suffer from fatigue and have mobility issues, but Nice is calling on healthcare professionals to encourage those affected to do more sports or take part in supervised exercise programmes.
The guidelines are aimed at helping people with MS get more regular reviews of their care, as some patients currently go for more than a year without being monitored
Dr Paul Cooper, who chairs the Guideline Development Group, said there are currently wide regional variations when it comes to MS patient care, adding that everyone in the UK should have the same "prompt access to specialists" who can help them deal with their condition.
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