A smartphone scheme set up through an online charity is to empower MS patients across the world.
George Pepper, from Leeds, co-founded Shift.ms and the organisation started the MS Reporters initiative to enable people with the condition to access information from specialists, no matter where they live.
George, who was diagnosed with MS 11 years ago, said: “Many people with MS get to spend just 15 minutes a year with their consultant, if they’re lucky. MS Reporters aims to bridge this gap, empowering and informing the patient community by creating a dialogue with leading experts.”
Shift.ms trains volunteers as “MS Reporters”, arranging for them to interview consultants and researchers using smartphones. The interviews are then added to a free video library.
The NHS increasingly encourages people to manage their own conditions where possible, but George said there was a lack of trusted information from healthcare professionals.
After being piloted two years ago, the scheme has been successfully adopted by two other charities and now, thanks to funding from the Wellcome Trust and Comic Relief, it will be rolled out further and used by other charities.
Dr Helen Ford, consultant neurologist at the LGI-based Leeds Centre for Neurosciences, has participated in it.
“With MS, symptoms can change over time and MS Reporters provides patients with a library of expert online information covering everything they might want to ask between specialist appointments,” she said. “This means MS Reporters could also help alleviate the pressure on other NHS services, for GPs in particular, as that’s where patients often turn between specialist appointments.”