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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Doubt that ‘missing’ benefits letter was ever sent

Postal delivery services make mistakes. They all do, from time to time. To err is human and those services are run by …. wait for it …. humans.

Those services can deliver mail after a delay and sometimes, but extremely rarely, they manage to lose it, so it never turns up at the intended destination.

Then, there are those “it’s in the post” people who say they have sent you a letter, but haven’t really. Worse still, though, are organisations that make a habit of saying “we sent you a letter”, when they didn’t.

The UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) causes numerous allegations of this sort of behavior. Just look at these examples, originally published by voxpolitical.com website.

Example 1 A new mother – and her baby – are facing eviction because the DWP cut off her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Why? The DWP claimed she had missed an appointment for a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) even though she protests that she was not told about the appointment.

Letter delivery assumed by DWP

letterThe department says it “can be assumed” that the letter was delivered as there was no evidence to the contrary. But, how can anyone prove they did NOT receive a letter? Evidence of something not happening never exists. As some organisations say ‘proof of posting is not proof of delivery’.

This young mother says she had no idea any letter had been sent, until the DWP sent her one – which did arrive – asking her why she hadn’t turned up to the WCA.

Example 2 Nicol Hart, on the Vox Political Facebook page, wrote: “They (the DWP) DON’T care…!! No one believes that the letters are even sent out…!! It is a deliberate ploy by the DWP to manufacture a reason to stop paying people benefits…!! I know people who have never had the letters and have had their benefits stopped because they never received any letter informing them of an interview that had been arranged for them.

Sitting in the home of a claimant, I watched him open his mail and there WAS a letter there notifying him of an appointment made for him by the DWP…!! The only PROBLEM was – that the appointment was for 2 days BEFORE the letter arrived at his house…!!

Example 3 A lone parent family member arrived at usual signing on time. She was told: “You should have been here two hours ago. We sent a letter. You’re sanctioned.” “I didn’t get a letter,” she said. “We sent it,” they maintained.

She rang me in tears, I told her to go back in and ask to see a supervisor, and to ask the supervisor to print a copy of supposed letter or record thereof, off her file. Surprise, there wasn’t one, because it was never sent. Payments restored. Trust destroyed.

Letter of the law?

Vox Political  commented: “The evidence is clear: The Department for Work and Pensions lies about its activities. DWP officers either deliberately fail to send appointment letters to vulnerable people or they delay those letters until after the date of the appointments. Then they claim they are above suspicion and accuse innocent people of dishonesty.

“This has to end.”

I agree. It’s high time, that people who are sick, have a disability, or are vulnerable, were treated with respect and honesty. Whether or not the DWP is capable of that is another matter. It’s certainly open to doubt.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming individuals here. The real problem is the all-pervading culture of the DWP, a culture that starts at the top.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis clears first hurdle, but will it go further?

Campaigners for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis are this week celebrating a small victory. Legalisation could help people with multiple sclerosis and other diseases but, realistically, there’s little chance it will become law

cannabis

Paul Flynn MP.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West and patron of the United Patients Alliance (UPA) presented a 10-Minute Rule Motion in the UK parliament’s House of Commons. Its purpose is to legalise the use of cannabis as a medicine.

UPA supporters, who gathered outside, took delighted when the bill gained its first reading. This is the first step on a long journey of any bill to pass into law.

The UPA aims to make sure everyone who might benefit from cannabis, to improve their quality of life, have access to it without the risk of criminalisation or stigmatisation.

Its website says: “We would see a legal, regulated supply of cannabis for patients so that they can use it safely, with knowledge of strain and dosage and with the best knowledge on healthy modes of intake and ways of medicating with cannabis.”uld see a legal, regulated supply of cannabis for patients so that they can use it safely, with knowledge of strain and dosage and with the best knowledge on healthy modes of intake and ways of medicating with cannabis.

In pursuit of this, the UPA organised a peaceful demonstration outside parliament, in the form of a ‘cannabis tea party’. It highlighted how the drug acts as pain relief for those with chronic and fatal illnesses.

The UK currently bans the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Sativex spray is the only exception.

Across the world, medicinal cannabis, or marijuana, is legal in many places including Canada and Uruguay. It is also legal in a number of states in America as it in some European countries.

Legalising cannabis – intelligent and compassionate

Flynn joined the tea party, and said: “We have to say to the government, for goodness sake, catch up with the rest of the world and allow a responsible legal market to operate to replace a market that’s illegal and dangerous.

cannabis“It’s political cowardice, they’re afraid of being mocked on this, but I’m afraid politicians don’t get credit for acting intelligently. This is the intelligent and compassionate thing to do. The law is an ass.”

Flynn has named his proposal The Elizabeth Brice Bill, named after a multiple sclerosis patient who died in 2011. She has been a long-time campaigner for legalising cannabis for medical purposes and started the UK branch of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. She and Flynn are said to have drunk cannabis tea together, in parliament, many years ago.

The next stage of the lawmaking process is the Second Reading. This has been set for Friday, February 23.

Bills introduced by MPs under the Ten-Minute Rule don’t often progress much further. Most stimulate publicity for, or seek the house’s opinion about, an issue which may later feature in another bill.

However, not all Ten-Minute Rule bills fail. Some do become law. Indeed, since 1945, more than 60 of them have become Acts of Parliament.

Perhaps, one day, UK drug laws may change but don’t expect Paul Flynn’s bill to achieve that. Sadly, there are too many MPs prepared to oppose it.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

 

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Steps to Overcoming MS but MS Society warns diet is unproven

Overcoming MS (OMS) is a popular, yet unproven, diet and lifestyle programme for people with MS. And in just under two weeks, on Sunday October 22, you can learn more about it at an OMS conference in Brighton, UK.

OMS

Professor George Jelinek (Pic: Overcoming MS).

Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis claims to promote the integration of diet and lifestyle changes into standard medical management to improve the health and lives of people with multiple sclerosis”. Professor George Jelinek, of Melbourne, Australia, developed the OMS Recovery Programme more than 15 years ago. He received a diagnosis of MS in 1999.

OMS started in Australia and New Zealand. It is a non-profit organization and accepts no funding from the pharmaceutical industry. In 2011, it formed a charity in the UK to with the aim of making the OMS programme available worldwide.

omsThe one-day conference is to include a number of presentations These are to focus on the seven steps of the recovery programme: diet, sunlight and vitamin D, exercise, meditation, medication, preventing family members from getting MS, and doing whatever it takes to overcome MS.

Organisers say the event will be of value to anyone, whether newly diagnosed, new to OMS or someone who has already been on the recovery programme for some time.

OMS step by step

So, what’s in the OMS recovery programme? To summarise:

  • Diet and supplements
    • A plant-based wholefood diet plus seafood, with no saturated fat, as far as is practical
    • Omega-3 fatty acid supplements: Take 20-40mls of flaxseed oil daily; fish oil can be used instead if desired
    • Optional B group vitamins or B12 supplement if needed
  • Vitamin D

    • Sunlight 15 minutes daily 3-5 times a week as close to all over as practical
    • Vitamin D3 supplement of at least 5000IU daily, adjusted to blood level
    • Aim to keep blood level of vitamin D high, that is between 150-225nmol/L (may require up to 10,000IU daily)
  • Meditation

    • 30 minutes daily
  • Exercise

    • 20-30 minutes around five times a week, preferably outdoors
  • Medication

    • In consultation with your doctor, if a wait and see approach is not appropriate, take one of the disease-modifying drugs (many may not need a drug, and drug selection should be carefully weighed against side effects)
    • Steroids for any acute relapse that is distressing
    • One of the more potent drugs if the disease is rapidly progressive

The MS Society, on its website, has expressed a note of caution. It says there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of the proposed diet, a key component of the programme. It warns that the diet may not provide enough protein and may be too low in energy.

omsThe society says: “The OMS diet recommendations are similar to the Swank diet. It advocates cutting out dairy and meat, and reducing fat intake – particularly saturated fat. It also recommends supplementation, particularly with omega 3 (in the form of fish oil or flaxseed oil) and vitamin D if your exposure to sunlight is limited.

“Research into this diet has not provided conclusive evidence of its benefits. However, as with the Swank diet, following the OMS programme is not likely to be considered bad for you.

“You should make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet, through eating plenty of fish, beans or pulses. Likewise, the diet may be low in energy, so it may not be suitable for you if you have high energy needs or you are already underweight,” says the society.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Good news about WCAs and Scotland BUT Universal Credit to roll out faster

As dust settles following UK prime minister Theresa May’s farcical conference speech, there’s mixed news for people claiming disability benefits. This includes people with MS and other diseases that cause disability.

disability

Theresa May’s distress call at party conference (Pic: Daily Star).

Good news is some Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) recipients will no longer face repeated work capability assessments (WCAs).   

I say ‘some’ as this is only a limited concession. It affects claimants in the ESA support group or any with limited capability for work-related activity for Universal Credit (UC).

There are two further conditions to qualify for exemption from repeat WCAs. Firstly, claimants need to have a severe, lifelong disability, illness, or health condition. Secondly, they must be unlikely to ever be able to move into work.

Department for Work and Pensions secretary David Gauke said this week: “After early tests of this approach, it has now been implemented and I can tell you that around twice as many people are expected to benefit from this reform than were originally thought.”

The government has devolved, to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood, control of some benefits paid to people living in Scotland. These benefits include Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disabled Living Allowance (DLA), and Carer’s Allowance.

Holyrood has decided that Scottish people should get a better deal than anyone elsewhere in the UK.

Disability benefit changes for the Scots

It has decided that, in Scotland:

  • Benefits will rise annually by at least the rate of inflation.
  • Private companies will no longer be allowed to carry out assessments for disability benefits such as PIP, DLA, and Attendance Allowance.
  • Any child in receipt of DLA will be given an automatic award of that DLA to age 18, to allow for continuity for families.
  • Mandatory reconsiderations of claim denials will have to take place within a set time limit or claimants will be able to take their case to a tribunal without needing to wait any longer.

Perhaps, other parts of the UK will follow suit in due course. We can only live in hope – certainly not in expectation.

On the downside, the government has decided to continue to roll out the highly criticized Universal Credit. However, it is now doing so 10 times faster than originally planned. Now, 50 areas a month will transfer to the new benefit, instead of just 5.

Compassionate? DWP secretary David Gauke (Picture: South West Herts Conservatives Association).

The government decided to proceed despite warnings of ‘disaster’ and a ‘human and political catastrophe’ from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and politicians from all parties, including 12 Conservative MPs

What seems perverse to me is that this government takes pride iin the harshness with which it treats claimants, while always claiming to be compassionate.

In his speech, Gauke also spoke of the government’s vision. He said: “It is a vision of the welfare state that is compassionate, practical and aspirational. It is, in short, a Conservative vision for a modern welfare state.”

Compassionate? No, just some sick joke.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Government in fight for survival, cabinet split, opposition turns up pressure on health and disability

Key ministers have drawn up their battle lines and daily newspapers say the cabinet is split. The government has descended into disarray and this is likely to deteriorate into a form civil war within the party. The national leader seems completely unable to set any form of direction.

Meanwhile, the opposition is promising to review its social welfare policies and, so, take the high ground on such issues. Additionally, it already has the best policies for people with diseases including MS, and other causes of disability.

Sound familiar? Of course. In the US, the Republican majority cannot agree its own policy on the future of healthcare. Opinions are sharply divided.

But that’s not the story here.

survivalThis battle is in the UK. Chancellor of the exchequer (treasury minister) Philip Hammond and foreign secretary Boris Johnson are already skirmishing about Brexit and Europe. And other cabinet ministers are busy choosing sides.

So much for prime minister Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ government, promised as part of her failed campaign to win a bigger majority. In the end, her party lost its overall majority in June’s general election. Now, the knives are out and May appears to be lost.

Fight for survival

Yesterday, the Sunday press had a field day. According to the headlines:

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, Debbie Abrahams, has supported calls for the party to come up with a stronger policy on reversing government cuts to social security spending.

Mrs Abrahams spoke after Labour’s annual conference, last week in Brighton, voted overwhelmingly to ask the party’s policy-making machinery to reconsider its approach to reversing the government’s latest cuts to benefits.

The conference vote means that the Labour party MUST rethink, and hopefully strengthen, its response to the government’s horrendous benefit cuts.

A commitment to remove the benefits cap would be a great start.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

 

 

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A view from the ground: Understand and cut risks of falls

I fall, you probably fall. In fact, anyone with mobility issues that include problems with balance is more than likely to fall from time to time.

fallsAnd that’s how I came to find myself sitting on the ground beside my car. My knee gave way as I was trying to transfer to the car from my wheelchair.

This happened just two days ago, after Lisa and I left a restaurant to head home. I tried and failed to get up, both by myself and with help. Then a police car pulled up and the two officers helped me to my feet.

That’s when things became a bit confused. First were communication problems as my basic Spanish language skills matched with one officer’s basic English abilities.

Anyway, after I established that alcohol was not involved, I explained that I had “esclerosis multiple” (pronounced ‘mool-ti-play’). So far, so good – but it became evident that police training does not go as far as MS. Despite my protestations, they wanted to ship me off to hospital and, so, called an ambulance.

At least the ambulance team understood MS, and quickly realized I did not wish to go to hospital. They explained the situation to the police, and said that I was ok to drive. Then we were on our way.

Overall, I felt that the whole experience may have been frustrating but I cannot fault the care from either the police or ambulance crew.

Give falls more thought

All that got me to think about last Friday (September 22) being Falls Prevention Awareness Day in the US. This is designed to encourage people with multiple sclerosis and others who are likely to fall to give more thought to why we fall.

Although the awareness day is coordinated by the National Council on Aging, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) this year presented research into MS-related falls, as well as resources to identify risk factors of falling.

This included the fact that typical MS symptoms, such as poor gait and balance, or the loss of perception of where body parts are, all contribute to your falls. These often happen at home, while you do everyday activities.

According to the NMSS, neurological symptoms are not the only factors as psychological issues are another risk area.  Further, fear of falling, overconfidence, or inactivity can also be factors.

“As MS changes over time and walking becomes more difficult, you may find that you resist accepting help,” the NMSS writes in its guide for minimizing the risk of falls.

It says: “Being able to walk confidently and independently is important, so the idea of losing that independence may be frightening. Tools and tips that can prevent future falls will help to keep you more independent rather than take your independence away… being receptive to them is half the battle.”

Another plus is that the NMSS has also developed the Free From Falls program. This contains eight modules with webinars, downloadable educational material and video-guided exercises.

These materials teach people like you and me about the various risk factors, and also offers tips and strategies to reduce the risk of falls.

I, for one, will be paying close attention.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Healthcare benefits under attack again

Cold-hearted policies and actions of government toward its own people is no surprise to my regular readers. And neither will there be any shock at my continued opposition to such disgusting activities.

benefits

The Capitol, Washington DC, home of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to one country. The current Conservative-led government in the UK has a despicable record in relation to vulnerable people. Now, though, what’s happening in the US seems to be just as bad.

A healthcare reform proposal known as Graham-Cassidy, named after its main protagonists, is currently before the Senate. And, if passed, it will limit healthcare benefits to those Americans who need them the most.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and several patient and healthcare groups oppose the proposal, led by Republicans Senators Lindsay Graham (South Carolina), and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana).

Benefits funding cuts proposed

In headline terms, the Graham-Cassidy proposal would:

  • reduce funding for Medicaid, a benefits program on which so many people with MS depend
  • remove the Obamacare requirement that insurance policies cover basic, essential medical services
  • remove Obamacare’s protection for people who have pre-existing conditions.

The Republican party, the majority in the Senate, has a fight to pass the reform proposal. That is because, if the Senate doesn’t vote it through on or before this Friday, September 30, it will need more votes to move the proposal forward.

Up to the end of this week, the supporters will require only 50 votes but after that, according to the voting procedure, they will need 60 votes to move to a vote on the bill.

So, what happens if the Republicans miss this Friday’s deadline? Well, the good news is that followers of Washington politics believe it’s highly unlikely that the Republicans could gather 60 votes.

The current state of the parties in the Senate, is Republican 52, Democrat 46, and Independents 2.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Gene therapy prevents, even reverses, MS in animal model – new research

Multiple sclerosis can be inhibited, or even reversed, according to University of Florida researchers. They used a novel gene therapy technique that, they claim, stops the disease’s immune response in mouse models.

Obviously, if that can be reproduced in humans, it has the potential to be wonderful news.

The researchers paper is “Gene Therapy-Induced Antigen-Specific Tregs Inhibit Neuro-inflammation and Reverse Disease in a Mouse Model of Multiple Sclerosis”. Molecular Therapy published it last week.

gene therapyBy combining a brain-protein gene and an existing medication, researchers were able to prevent the mouse version of multiple sclerosis. Likewise, the treatments produced near-complete remission in the animal models.

Researchers said that their findings have significant potential for treating MS and other autoimmune disorders.

The paper says researchers used an adeno-associated virus, to deliver a brain protein gene into the livers of mouse models. The virus sparked production of so-called Tregs (regulatory T cells), which suppress the immune system attack that defines multiple sclerosis. The gene targeted the liver because it has the ability to induce immune tolerance.

Brad E Hoffman PhD is an assistant professor in pediatrics and neuroscience at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He said: “Using a clinically tested gene therapy platform, we are able to induce very specific regulatory cells that target the self-reactive cells that are responsible for causing multiple sclerosis.”

Encouraged by longevity of gene therapy

Hoffman says he Is encouraged by the longevity of the gene therapy. Mouse models treated with gene therapy showed no signs of disease after seen months. He compared It with a group of untreated mouse models that had neurological problems after 14 days.

The protein was combined with rapamycin — a drug used to coat heart stents and prevent organ transplant rejection — and researchers found its effectiveness was further improved.

We chose this drug because it allows helpful regulatory T-cells to proliferate while blocking undesirable effector T-cells, Hoffman said.

Further research is needed before tests of the therapy in humans are carried out in a clinical trial, Hoffman said. Researchers also need to target the full suite of proteins that are implicated in multiple sclerosis, he added.

Still, Hoffman said he is extremely optimistic that the gene therapy can be effective in humans.

“If we can provide long-term remission for people and a long-term quality of life, that is a very promising outcome,” he said.

The research was funded by grants from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Institutes of Health and the Children’s Miracle Network.

My view is that while it is still early days, the results so far seem very encouraging. I look forward to learning about further developments as time progresses.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Care cuts put those in need at risk

Vulnerable people are at risk because social work budgets cuts make it impossible to prepare meaningful care packages. And that is besides cuts to the government’s welfare benefits.

It’s the job of social workers to assess what support someone needs to keep them safe and able to live independently. Community Care magazine and the Care and Support Alliance, of which the MS Society is a member, surveyed social workers. The survey asked about the challenges they face trying to get people the care they need.

social workersIn response, the social workers criticised the devastating impact cuts are having on people who rely on care and support.

Almost 500 UK social workers took part in the survey. Their comments reveal the incredibly difficult position they’re often in, as they increasingly have to restrict or remove care entirely. What’s more, that is due solely to lack of resources, as local councils struggle to balance their budgets.

One social worker said: “[There is] strong pressure from my line manager and commissioners to reduce costs as a main priority.”

Meanwhile, another commented: “Colleagues constantly battle to keep packages at an adequate level to support clients.”

Social workers tell of appalling cuts in care

Their descriptions of what cuts can mean in practice to people who need care were appalling:

One wrote: “A person with hoarding issues and a tendency to eat rotten food had their shopping and housework call cut, resulting in an admission to hospital with food poisoning.”

Another response said: “The person requires support with walking to the bathroom, but due to the cost he is now required to contribute towards it. [Instead,] he has decided he would rather have the risk of falling than [pay for] an evening call.”

MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell, said: “This report lays bare the realities social workers face thanks to a system that hasn’t been properly funded for decades. Our own research shows that too many people with MS are bearing the brunt of cuts. One in three [are] not getting support with essential everyday tasks.

“The government has promised to improve the social care system and additional funding and reform has to come quickly. People who desperately rely on care shouldn’t be forced to keep paying the price.”

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Link between low levels of Vitamin D and risk of MS ever stronger

A new study has underlined the value of vitamin D in the fight against multiple sclerosis.

People with low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk than others of developing MS, a new study shows.

The study looked at stored blood samples of 800,000 pregnant Finnish women.

vitamin dVitamin levels of 1,092 women, who were later diagnosed with MS, were compared to those of 2,123 women around the same age and region who did not develop the disease. The women who went on to develop MS had lower average vitamin D levels than other women.

The study, titled “25-Hydroxyvitamin D deficiency and risk of MS among women in the Finnish Maternity Cohort”, was published last week in Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the USA’s National MS Society website:

Researchers believe that several genetic and environmental factors influence whether a person will get MS. These factors may also impact the severity of the disease.

Scientists are eager to find risk factors for MS that can be modified to possibly prevent MS and reduce disease activity. Research is increasingly pointing to reduced levels of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS. Studies are underway to determine if vitamin D levels influence MS disease activity.

Increased vitamin D equals lower risk of MS

The team found that overall as vitamin D levels increased, the risk of later developing MS decreased. Women with the greatest deficiency in vitamin D had a twofold increase in the risk of developing MS. And those with the highest vitamin D levels had the lowest risk of a later MS diagnosis.

Most of the women in the study were considered to have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D. Of the women who developed MS, 58 percent had deficient levels of vitamin D, compared to 52 percent of the women who did not develop the disease. The researchers conclude that the results directly support vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for MS and that correcting this among reproductive age women may reduce their future risk of developing MS.

As we who have MS wait impatiently to find a cure, we welcome every new study with good news of one kind or another.

We must greet all such studies as successful steps along the journey to defeat this insidious disease.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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