Nearly half (48 per cent) of Multiple Scleroris (MS) sufferers who had to undergo an Employment Support Allowance (ESA) assesment felt the process caused their condition to deteriorate or relapse, according to a survey by the MS Society.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said that the results of the UK-wide survey, which included sufferers from Northern Ireland, were alarming.
“I am deeply concerned at the unnecessary harm which is being caused to the health of multiple sclerosis sufferers as a result of having to undergo disability benefits tests.
“I am therefore supporting this important campaign which is calling for government action to address a benefits system that is failing to take adequate account of the fluctuating and hidden symptoms of MS – or the extent of their impact.”
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, said: “Having MS is enough; it should not be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense for people living with the condition.
“Lack of understanding of the condition and the failure to use information from medical professionals is causing stress or contributing to relapses and deteriorating health.
“This is counterintuitive to a system designed to support people with disabilities.
“The Government needs to recognise the reality of living with MS and make basic, common sense changes, fast.”