One in five people with multiple sclerosis don’t have enough money for vital medication

Rebecca Robinson (MS Society)
Rebecca Robinson (MS Society)

One in five people with multiple sclerosis do not have enough money to pay for the vital medication they need, according to new data.

A new report from the MS Society reveals that 19.6 per cent of those suffering from the condition fear they may not be able to pay for their treatment as the cost of living crisis bites.

The figures lay bare the impact of inflation and soaring gas prices on those living with the debilitating illness, with one in 20 of those surveyed saying they had used a foodbank in the past year. One in three (32.5 per cent) said they could not afford to eat balanced meals and 40 per cent said they had to borrow money to make ends meet.

There are over 130,000 people living with MS in Britain. The condition damages nerves in the body and makes eating, walking and talking more difficult.

Rebbecca, 36, was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2018 and experiences a range of symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and memory issues.

“Being on a tight budget means there are loads of barriers. There’s things I would want to do but the money isn’t there to do it. My dad drives us places. My brother takes our clothes to wash,” she said.

“I’ve had to stop physiotherapy and yoga – both of which really helped my MS. Before I was socialising making having connections – but now I can feel like I’m on my own.”

Rebbecca, who works part-time as a teaching assistant and lives with her eight-year-old son, said she struggled to afford healthier meals due to the rising cost of food.

“I’d prefer to eat more fruits and vegetables, fish and wholesome meals which would support my physical health and wellbeing. But that’s out of budget,” she added.

The figures come as the charity launched their Breaking Point campaign on Wednesday to ramp up pressure on ministers to bring forward a new cost of living package, arguing that the £150 payment given to disabled people this winter is insufficient.

As part of the package, they are demanding an extra £800 payment to anyone who receives means-tested benefits and a £500 payment to those who receive a Carer’s Allowance.

Anastasia Berry, Policy Manager at the MS Society, said the soaring price of gas and food had forced those suffering from the condition to make “devastating choices” between treatment and essential supplies.

“Living with MS can be relentless, painful and disabling, and now many people with the condition are left wondering how they’ll get through the winter.

“The situation is critical and an emergency response is required. Cutting taxes and freezing energy bills is simply not enough. The original support package announced in May acknowledged the additional needs of disabled people and provided targeted support to help with the extra costs they face, yet so far Liz Truss’s new government has dangerously overlooked disabled people.”

The survey of 1,108 people living with MS was conducted by the charity between April and May this year.