Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week 2024 runs from the 22nd to the 28th of April, an annual campaign where MS advocacy groups, healthcare providers, researchers, and the MS community unite to raise awareness and understanding about multiple sclerosis. The campaign combines the MS Society, MS Together, MS-UK, Neuro Therapy Network, Overcoming MS and

Throughout the week, the MS community works tirelessly to educate the public by providing information on symptoms, treatments, and the realities of living with this disease. Crucially, this week spotlights current MS research efforts and the continued need for better services, policies, and an eventual cure to address the immense challenges posed by this neurological condition.

Identifying those affected by Multiple Sclerosis

At CF, we investigated Multiple Sclerosis care in England. Using our advanced analytical tools, we conducted a careful analysis to contextualise the impact of MS. A key finding was that there are over 3% more people living with MS (PwMS) in the UK than previously estimated. While previous work extrapolated from a smaller patient cohort estimated 117,420 PwMS in England, our analysis counted 121,314 PwMS nationally as of the end of 2023. Our techniques precisely counted the number of unique patients who have presented for care in the past 5 years and used methods to accurately account for known inconsistencies of coding MS for outpatients, providing an accurate population size moving forward.

Our latest snapshot provides a summary:

New insights

Previous estimates of the number of people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis were based on a small sample of patients and extrapolated to the country. For the first time, CF has a numerator for every single person with MS contained within the hospital episodes statistics covering all 57 million people at record level by crossing band. By applying diagnostic classification, analysing the number of patients with a recorded diagnosis and removing those who died, we were able to identify 15,000 people more with MS than previously estimated.

Understanding the true number of MS patients is vital for:

  • Accurate healthcare planning, care models and resource allocation
  • Informing research and clinical trial cohorts
  • Identifying disease patterns and risk factors

Other insights from the investigation were:

  • 71% of PwMS are Female, while 29% are Male
  • The average age of diagnosis is 45.5 years old
  • The patient group with the youngest average age of diagnosis was women of mixed ethnicity, 35.7 years old

To learn more about this investigation and similar projects contextualising the impact of diseases get in touch.

About the authors

Ben Richardson is co-founder and Managing Partner at CF, where he leads our work in Life Sciences and Data Innovation.

Dr Jo Andrews is Partner & Chief Medical Officer at CF, bringing clinical expertise to our NHS consulting, life sciences and data innovation practices

Jack Rowlandson is an Analyst at CF and graduated in Biological Sciences with a background in Healthcare Technology