Morna writes on the Get Loud for MS campaign in the run up to the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May 2016.
For over 11,000 people in Scotland, living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a daily reality. MS is an unpredictable and incurable condition that affects people’s nervous systems. It can attack suddenly or progress steadily, bringing a range of symptoms which can include sight loss, incontinence, fatigue and mobility problems. No-one with MS can be sure when or how it will affect them next.
It’s now under a month until the Holyrood election and we are trying to raise awareness of MS amongst candidates and political parties. We have launched our “Get Loud for MS” manifesto, telling prospective MSPs what they can do for people living with MS in Scotland if elected to Holyrood.
This is an important time for Scotland and for people living with MS. We are seeing a greater devolution of powers to Holyrood meaning that for the first time decisions on aspects of welfare will be made in Scotland. We have to ensure that the voices of people living with MS are heard when politicians decide how to use these new powers.
Alongside this we are seeing big changes in the way health and social care services are designed and delivered with a lot of potential to work in a more joined up way. If we want this to be a success then it’s vital that the voices of service users are placed front and centre. I’m sure this is something that will resonate with other ALLIANCE members.
Then there is the ongoing issue of access to services and support for people living with MS. We need to ensure this is consistent across Scotland, something which isn’t always the case at present, particularly in more rural areas. These are some of the reasons behind our three key asks of Holyrood election candidates:
- Care, support and treatment for people living with MS is person-centred, consistent and based within the community
- Voices of people living with MS are heard in the health and social care integration process
- Newly devolved powers create an empowering and fairer landscape for people living with MS
Our MS: Enough campaign, launched in 2015, highlighted the issues people with MS face in accessing the benefits they need to live an independent life. As we see powers over personal independence payment and employment support allowance devolved to Scotland it is important that we work to create a fairer system which recognises fluctuating conditions such as MS. The assessment regime at present is not fit for purpose and we will be pressing the next Scottish Government to use their powers to change this in Scotland. We are up for the challenge, we hope they are!
We are working hard to get our messages out far and wide. Alongside engaging with candidates we are looking to build support from other charities, health professionals and public bodies. We believe we can help to shape a better Scotland for people living with MS, the opportunities are there and it’s up to us to make the most of them.
You can join us and ‘Get Loud for MS’ by visiting our campaign webpage and using #GetLoudForMS on Twitter.