Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer: ★ (Blue Thursday #000080)
Where are all the new MS patients gone? We have national data showing that there has been a 30% fall in the number of new patients with MS starting on disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where are these patients? I suspect due to the reconfiguration of the NHS because of COVID-19 many of these patients have yet to find their way through the diagnostic pathway.
Many patients may have had neurological symptoms suggestive of a demyelinating syndrome and decided against seeking medical attention during the crisis. As these symptoms may have remitted they have now gotten on with their lives. Others are waiting for MRI scans, lumbar punctures and evoked potentials.
We were hoping our Barts-MS service would get back to some form of new normal, but this is unlikely to happen for some time. A big concern is a recent increase in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Delta or Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2. More worrying is the low rate of vaccine uptake in our local area due to vaccine hesitancy.
As you can see from the latest Government figures infections rates in Whitechapel are surging well above the national average and the vaccine data figures are very worrying; the majority of adults in Whitechapel have not been vaccinated and more importantly, less than a quarter (24.3%) have not had two doses compared to close to 60% nationally. At the Royal London Hospital, we are therefore bracing ourselves for a third/fourth wave of admissions. This will have knock-on effects and affect routine hospital services such as our Barts-MS service. The best thing you can do as an individual is to #GetVaccinatedASAP to prevent hospital admissions and deaths and to allow the NHS to get routine services back to normal.
I have little doubt based on the principle that ‘time is brain’ that many people yet to be diagnosed with MS will do worse because of the inevitable delays in the management of their MS.
General Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of Professor Giovannoni and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry nor Barts Health NHS Trust and are not meant to be interpreted as personal clinical advice.