Policy and MS: update for Health Professionals - February 2018


This post is intended for Health and Social Care Professionals working with people with MS. We hope this will provide you with policy information and links relevant to your work.

This post contains information in 3 sections:

  • MS-specific updates
  • NHS England updates
  • Recent Government announcements relevant to MS

MS-specific updates

NICE consultation: ocrelizumab

NICE is assessing Ocrelizumab for primary progressive MS (PPMS) to decide whether it should be prescribed by the NHS in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland will carry out separate appraisals.

What does this mean for people with MS?

There is currently no licensed treatment for PPMS. The MS Trust is fully committed to supporting people with MS to get the best and most appropriate treatment for them, and we hope that Ocrelizumab will be made available to people with PPMS.

We have undertaken a survey of people with PPMS and specialist MS health professionals to gather views on the NICE appraisal, gathering nearly 500 responses. We will be submitting a formal response to NICE, explaining why we think Ocrelizumab should be made available on the NHS.

Cladribine approved for Scotland

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved Mavenclad (cladribine) as a treatment for active relapsing remitting MS.

Read more about Mavenclad (cladribine).

NHS England updates

Accountable care

There is no fixed definition of Accountable Care – but, broadly speaking, it is an area-based model of healthcare provision, perhaps better described as integrated care, and is about organisations working together to meet the needs of their local population. Accountable care aims to improve population health by tackling the causes of illness and the wider determinants of health. Some forms of accountable care involve local authorities and the third sector alongside NHS organisations in working towards these objectives.

A King's Fund briefing states that:

Developments in accountable care in England hold the promise of a different way of working in the NHS with an emphasis on places, populations and systems rather than organisations.

There has been some public concern about Accountable Care contracts, with legal challenges launched challenging the shift to an annual budget for a population, rather than the payment by services used model. NHSE has announced that there will be a consultation on the contracting arrangements for Accountable Care Organisations.

If you’d like to know more about it and its complexities, the House of Commons library has produced an Accountable Care Organisations briefing paper.

Recent Government announcements

Blue Badge Scheme: consultation on eligibility

The Department for Transport is currently consulting on eligibility for blue badges. The DfT is looking to clarify the regulations and guidance, ensuring that equality issues are addressed and that there is parity for physical and non-physical disabilities. The consultation proposes to:

consider an ‘automatic’ route to a blue badge for anyone with a PIP score of 12 or over
change the wording of current regulations to focus on difficulties (physical or non-physical) experienced during a journey, rather than the physical act of walking

The consultation is open until 18 March 2018. As health professionals, do encourage people with MS to respond to the consultation before the deadline.

What does this mean for people with MS?

It is important to be aware that this consultation does not propose an automatic route to a blue badge for any disability. It does, however, look to create equal access to blue badges for those with ‘hidden’ disabilities. This is relevant to people whose MS may cause ‘invisible’ difficulties.

Department for Health and Social Care

The Department of Health has been renamed the Department of Health and Social Care, with Caroline Dinenage appointed Minister of State for social care at the Department in January.

The Department for Health and Social Care has published its departmental plan, which forms part of a wider set of government plans and priorities.

What does this mean for people with MS?

It is hoped that this increased profile for social care may mean greater government focus on social care issues, and more emphasis on working together with health. This would be good news for everyone using health and social care services.

The departmental plan contains high level objectives for improving the nation’s health and care, and ensuring that the NHS and social care systems have the workforce to do so. Headline issues covered include cancer, diabetes, dementia, mental health and childhood obesity. Most services (including neurological services) are not mentioned in this high level document.

Draft health and care workforce strategy

Health Education England is consulting on a draft workforce strategy, which describes the current workforce situation in health and social care, and seeks to understand the needs of health and social care services to 2027.

This is a broad consultation, with events taking place across the regions. Specific questions are asked at the end of the document.

What does this mean for people with MS and specialist MS health professionals?

While this is a very broad consultation, focusing on principles for the workforce rather than specific health and care issues, there may be opportunities to state the case for specialist healthcare recruitment and training!

Kirsty McKenzie, Policy and Insight Officer, MS Trust.