Migration to ESA

ESA 14

Written evidence submitted by Allerdale Multiple Sclerosis Society

As Chairman of the Allerdale (West Cumbria) branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, I am particularly concerned with the assessment criteria used in the Work Capacity Assessment.

MS is a very serious and disabling condition of the nervous system causing widely differing symptoms, many of which – nerve pain that does not respond to pain killers and extreme fatigue – are invisible. It is also characterised by fluctuating periods of relapse and remission.

As you will know, there is no cure for this degenerative condition for which there is no predictable course – the uncertainty of which causes much anxiety. In addition the efficacy of disease- modifying drugs for symptom control differs from person to person.

For these reasons, any assessment carried out on a single occasion cannot result in a reliable judgement on the person’s ability to sustain paid work. Unfortunately for those wish to try, attempts to make the most of a remission period by working hard to catch up either in a job or in the home, so often result in MS fatigue and a relapse into return of symptoms which are either more severe or spread to another part of the nervous system.

People with MS find that stress plays a large part in the course of their illness (as, indeed, in other illnesses) and the manner in which the assessment is carried out needs to be monitored by staff who have experience enabling them to understand the problems and anxieties faced by people with fluctuating degenerative disease.

March 2011