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16 May 2024

MS rising in the UK – numbers from latest study

A recent study in the UK has shown that the number of people living with MS in the UK has increased by nearly 13%.

MS rising in the UK

A recent study in the UK has shown that the number of people living with MS in the UK has increased by nearly 13% 1. The number of people living with MS in the UK is now estimated to be over 150,000 – the previous estimate was 130,000.

Led by the MS Society, the MS charities which support people in the UK (including Overcoming MS) are using this data to call for an investment in services for people with MS – the UK currently ranks 44 out of 45 European nations, for the number of neurologists for each person with a neurological condition.

The sharp rise is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including better diagnosis and people with MS living longer, rather than an increase in the risk of developing MS.  

Alexandra Holden, Chief Executive of Overcoming MS, said: “While this increase in numbers is putting pressure on health services for people with MS, it is important not to be alarmed – the data isn’t showing an increase in risk.

“These results show that there has never been a more pressing time to be talking about the importance of lifestyle for treating the symptoms of MS as well as managing the long-term progression of the disease, and for people to know this from when they are first diagnosed.

“This pressure on services means it is more important than ever for providers to collaborate to improve awareness of, and self-management around, healthy lifestyle choices. Overcoming MS is here to help.”

It is also important to note that this research study only looked at numbers within the UK. The Overcoming MS team will update on new data as and when it is released. 

Working with healthcare professionals

At Overcoming MS, we work closely with healthcare professionals. We see our role as helping to take some of the additional pressure off health services by providing guidelines on how to live well with MS, through our evidence-based Program, and supported through our Healthcare Professionals Advisory Group.

We are working to reach more healthcare professionals to share the evidence-based benefits of lifestyle and how we can help them, so that people are aware of the choices available as soon as they are diagnosed.

1‘MS Society Multiple Sclerosis Incidence, and Prevalence in the UK’. 2024. The Health Improvement Network (THIN) Database (A Cegedim Proprietary Database). This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.