Edwin Poots told to save MS drugs from cutbacks
The funding of medicines for multiple sclerosis patients must be protected from potential cuts to the health budget, a charity has said.
Last week Health Minister Edwin Poots issued a dire warning about budget cuts, including reductions in the numbers of doctors and nurses, less money for drug treatments of cancer, arthritis and MS and pay restraint for health care staff.
The DUP minister has claimed there is a £140m shortfall in funding for the health service.
MS Society director Patricia Gordon said the charity was deeply concerned that funding for MS medicines and other vital services – such as appointments with consultant neurologists and MS nurses – could be slashed.
"There are more than 4,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in Northern Ireland and while every one of them shares the uncertainty of life with MS, they should not face the added worry that MS medicines may be out of reach," she said.
"Access to effective MS drugs can transform the lives of people with MS by reducing the number of relapses and alleviating distressing symptoms such as reduced mobility, vision loss and fatigue.
"Being on the right treatment, at the right time can not only improve quality of life, it may also help people with MS stay in employment and continue to live life to the full.
"On behalf of people with MS, we urge the Department of Health and the NI Executive to ensure that funding for MS medicines and services is protected so that every person with MS can access the MS treatments they need."
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition affecting more than 100,000 people in the UK, and is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20-40 years old. MS can get steadily worse, or remain unpredictable throughout people's lives.