CUMBRIA has become only the third place in the UK to appoint an advanced champion for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Nicola Hyslop will focus on supporting people in the local area who are living with the complex and often devastating symptoms that characterise advanced MS, as well as providing support to families and carers.

She has been appointed to the new role by the MS Trust and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).

The MS Trust estimates up to 40,000 people in the UK have advanced MS - characterised by increasing disability, including mobility and balance problems, severe pain, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, spasticity, bladder/bowel problems and memory loss.

However, its research has found that many people with advanced MS report losing contact with specialist services as their condition gets worse.

Instead they have to rely on informal care from family and friends, and sometimes have to manage this debilitating condition alone.

Thanks to funding from The October Club, the MS Trust launched a programme to change that - funding advanced champions across the UK.

Nicola said: “I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know patients and their families, building a good rapport which will enable us to work together, to ensure that they are fully supported and receiving the most appropriate care.

“The MS service in Cumbria is staffed by a very small and dedicated team. The patient caseload and the rurality of the local area has often made it difficult for those people with advanced MS to be reviewed regularly, which may have led to unnecessary hospital admissions and them feeling unsupported.

“I hope to provide people with regular contact in their homes, promote wellbeing and treatment when appropriate, and ultimately reduce the need for unnecessary hospital admissions by ensuring appropriate support is in place.”