People with MS who want to work are just not getting the support they need in the workplace. That´s the verdict of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for MS.
The group issued its report after conducting a year-long review into whether people with MS have the support they need to stay in, or get back into, work. It has also made recommendations about improving support that people with MS need.
Unsurprisingly, the review found that the fluctuating nature of MS is a significant obstacle to gaining, or staying at, work. Other findings were:
- Common MS symptoms (including fatigue, mobility issues and cognitive problems) can cause significant challenges at work.
- Those who are not in or looking for work due to their MS lose almost 20 working years on average.
- Preventable issues result in many people with MS leaving work earlier than they would choose to. These issues include people with MS facing stigma and discrimination at work and a lack of understanding of MS in the workplace.
Group chairman Simon Hoare said: “Small, straightforward changes by employers – such as supporting managers to feel confident in talking with employees about their health and offering reasonable adjustments – can help people with MS to stay in work for longer.
“There are areas for improvement in Government policies and employment support schemes such as the Work and Health Programme and Access to Work. And employees need to feel comfortable about discussing their immediate and ongoing needs with their employers.”
MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “With the Government’s consultation on work, health and disability now launched, this timely review sets out concrete steps that could result in more people with MS, who feel able to, remaining in work.
“We know that employment can help people with MS to remain independent and participate in society, so it’s crucial this issue is addressed. And those who can no longer work should be able to rely on welfare support without the fear of having it taken away.”
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/didorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.