People with MS in Edinburgh struggle as health services remain closed

Seven in ten people with MS have not been able to speak to a physiotherapist since the lockdown and more than 40 per send have had appointments cancelled or delayed

By Shona Elliott
Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 7:00 pm
Before lockdown, Paul Kellas  attended pilates and balance classes, received acupuncture and group support to help him retain his mobility and mental strength.
Before lockdown, Paul Kellas attended pilates and balance classes, received acupuncture and group support to help him retain his mobility and mental strength.

A man from Swanfield with MS has told of his ‘devastation’ at the lack of rehab he received due to the lockdown.

Paul Kellas was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS over a decade ago and has been working with the MS Therapy Centre in Edinburgh to relieve his symptoms since.

Twelve years on from the diagnosis the 54-year-old said the therapy he received twice a week helped him ‘enormously’ in managing his symptoms.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Before lockdown, he attended pilates and balance classes, received acupuncture and group support to help him retain his mobility and mental strength.

However, since the pandemic hit the Capital all of these services have been cancelled and Mr Kellas said the impact on his health has been ‘devastating’.

He said: “Before the pandemic, I went to the centre twice a week at least and when the centre closed I stopped getting all the classes and my mobility drastically reduced.”

“When the centre temporarily closed, I was devastated, it was terrible to lose that service and it started to affect my mental health. I couldn’t see an end to the lockdown and it affected me badly.

“My physical mobility lessened so much that it actually affected my mental health quite badly. It made me a bit depressed and think that things were going to get worse.”

The MS Society who works closely with Mr Kellas and others managing the condition in Edinburgh said many people with MS in the city are facing similar struggles.

A survey carried out by the MS Society found that since March 2020, seven in ten people with MS have not been able to speak to a physiotherapist since the lockdown and more than 40 per send have had appointments cancelled or delayed, either by the healthcare professional or by themselves due to concerns about infection.

The findings – which appear in the MS Society’s ‘Too Much to Lose’ report – also show over a third of people felt their symptoms got worse during lockdown with many noting an increased deterioration in their mobility, balance, and pain levels.

In response to these findings, the MS Society has launched a pledge for local health leaders across Edinburgh and Scotland to sign to protect access to services.

The charity said that every pledge will help to demonstrate to the Scottish Government that they must ensure that the framework leads to the improvement of rehabilitation for everyone that needs it.

Director of MS Society Scotland Morna Simpkins said: “Too often, people with MS can’t get the support they need to stay active and independent - and this has only got worse during the lockdown.

“We’re asking local health leaders to sign our pledge to ensure that the Scottish Government follows through on their positive commitments so that people with long-term neurological conditions like MS can access the rehabilitation support they need - to prevent the painful and life-limiting effects of MS getting worse as the pandemic continues.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Subscribe to the Edinburgh Evening News online and enjoy unlimited access to trusted, fact-checked news and sport from Edinburgh and the Lothians. Visit https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director