New Advanced MS Champion in Bristol will make a “huge difference”

North Bristol NHS Trust and the MS Trust and are delighted to announce the appointment of a new Advanced MS Champion for the local area, the sixth role of this kind in the entire UK


Tania Burge Advanced MS Champion

Advanced multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterised by increasing disability, including mobility and balance problems, severe pain and fatigue, difficulty swallowing, spasticity, bladder and bowel problems, and loss of memory. The MS Trust estimates up to 40,000 people in the UK have advanced MS.

However, MS Trust research has found that many people with advanced MS report losing contact with MS specialist services as their condition gets worse, and have to rely on informal care from family and friends, and sometimes have to manage this debilitating condition alone.

Thanks to funding from city philanthropists The October Club, the MS Trust launched a transformational three-year programme to change that. The Advanced MS Champion Programme is funding six new Champions, over a three-year period, in select locations across the UK, transforming the lives of thousands of people living with advanced MS.

Tania Burge, based at North Bristol NHS Trust, is the UK’s sixth Advanced MS Champion and will bring much-needed care to people in the local area living with the complex and often devastating symptoms that characterise advanced MS, as well as providing support to families and carers.

Over the next two years, the MS Trust hopes to demonstrate how the Champions can make a real difference in delivering efficient, equitable and joined-up MS services that work for people with MS and save the NHS money by reducing emergency hospital admissions. The charity believes this will make the case for these roles to be rolled out across the NHS so that no one has to manage MS alone.

Megan Roberts, Head of Health Professionals Programmes at the MS Trust, commented:

“Our work over the past five years has shown that people with advanced MS and their families all too often miss out on vital specialist care. We’ve set up the Advanced MS Champions programme to change this narrative and help transform the lives of people living with advanced MS and their families.
“Everyone at the MS Trust is hugely excited about the appointment of Tania. With her extensive knowledge and expertise, we know that she’ll make a huge difference to local people living with this debilitating condition.”

Tania Burge, Advanced MS Champion for Bristol, added:

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this post is now more vital than ever. It will support people with advanced MS who have struggled with the restrictions of lockdown and may have experienced reduced access to health professionals to manage their MS symptoms. Like many people, they may have been concerned about visiting hospital at this time, which reduces the chance of earlier interventions and contact. This new role has the potential to improve the quality of life for people with advanced MS, enabling them to live well and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. I am really excited about this new challenge and the opportunity to work with the other five pilot sites.”