THE OZONE: Rising to the challenge of 2017

THE OZONE. Views from the frontline of health

By Trishna Bharadia, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008. She is an expert patient and advocate for people with the condition. Trishna has won several awards, including MS Society Volunteer of the Year 2013 and Woman of the Year 2015. In 2015 she was chosen to take part in the first ever People’s Strictly for Comic Relief on BBC1.

Trishna Bharadia

Rising to the challenge of 2017

What are the challenges that the NHS and people with MS will face in 2017?
There are so many that I’ve decided to list the dozen most important.

1. Unequal access to information and support remains an issue. The best care centres are generally in large cities. There is also a disparity in the time lag between being diagnosed and seeing someone who has some sort of specialism in MS e.g. MS nurse.

2. Not being seen as a “whole” patient – we’re not just our MS! Lack of coordination between healthcare professionals is not made any easier by a lack of a single, unified health record.

3. Bureaucracy, red tape and administrative overload is a burden when you are seen by different consultants, for different things, at different hospitals.

4. Lack of support and guidance to be able to self-manage.

5. Lack of consensus about best treatment pathways and disease monitoring, which ties into unequal access to treatments and disease monitoring.

6. Unequal access to specialist MS Nurses, plus a lack of MS nurses. Where you do have access, there is still disparity in terms of how easy it is to contact them and what they’re “allowed” to do.

7. Lack of free or subsidised prescriptions for people with long term or multiple health conditions.

8. Difficulties of access to GPs generally, as well as to those who can specifically provide targeted care for your condition, especially if you don’t have access to a specialist nurse.

9. A real need to improve patient engagement.

10. A real need to empower patients. People don’t necessarily know what is possible within the NHS system, because they are not told. For example, being able to be seen by any consultant at any hospital within the NHS, not just what is local to you.

11. A need for great er coordination between NHS and other service providers e.g. charities that can plug the gaps.

12. Finally, there is a need for a system to make sure people aren’t falling through the gaps – I know some people who haven’t seen their neurologist for years!
I think many people with long-term conditions do love the NHS but it can be a battle to deal with the system. It has a reputation for being inefficient and cumbersome, with those of us who have to use it a lot often experiencing the results of this. Improving the reputation of the NHS is a big challenge that would encompass many different areas.

• Trishna is a member of The Ozone, a hand-picked group of health experts brought together by Oyster Healthcare Communications to discuss ideas and share best practice across therapy areas. Follow her on Twitter @TrishnaBharadia

Read more from Trishna and her fellow panellists in Issue 1 of The Ozone e-magazine.

Published on: February 9, 2017