On the eve of the third annual Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) Day (22 October) in the UK, Lord Hunt of King’s Heath kick-started a week of major nationwide events on 20 October with a question to the government in the House of Lords. The Lords question sent PPS Day 2015 to the top of the political health agenda by Lord Hunt adding his voice to those calling for a national strategy and care pathway for around 120,000 people living with PPS in the UK today.
PPS is a neurological condition which can occur in up to 80 per cent of people who have had Polio and affects a similar figure to the number of people with Parkinson’s or Motor neurone disease. PPS however receives only a fraction of public and medical awareness, something The British Polio Fellowship aims to change through initiatives such as PPS Day and the support of Lord Hunt.
Following PPS Day held at the House of Commons in 2014 supported by former MP for Edmonton Andy Love, this year attention has switched to the Welsh Assembly, with an event supported by Mark Isherwood, AM. Lord Hunt’s question is part of a two pronged attack in 2015 to seek a national agenda on PPS. Lord Hunt of King’s Heath rose in the Lords on October 20, who asked:
“My Lords, as many as 120,000 people are affected by Post Polio Syndrome a debilitating condition with individuals suffering from weakness, pain and fatigue many years after Polio had been diagnosed. Yet it is largely unrecognised in the NHS, few specialist consultants are available and we lag behind many European countries in providing good orthotics services to people with PPS.
My Lords, this cries out for a national strategy and care pathway. Will he agree to one?”
“Lord Hunt’s question really goes to the heart of the matter and we would like to thank him for taking our cause direct to Her Majesty’s government,” said CEO of The British Polio Fellowship, Ted Hill MBE. “Questions in Parliament, an event at the Welsh Assembly, this year we are putting PPS Day on the map like never before.”
This year’s events for PPS Day got underway with a campaign promoting disability fashion. Supported by QVC presenter and author Julia Roberts, the Team GB Paralympians Anne Wafula-Strike and James Crisp – and with a little help from Crystal Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni and former Palace and England legend John Salako – the collection had its premiere at Half Time on 17 October during the match with West Ham. A video was shown to the fans at half time (: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrIipBMf9nw) explaining more about PPS and several new members have already joined the charity as a consequence.
Lord Hunt’s question will be followed by an event for PPS Day being hosted at the Welsh Assembly by Mark Isherwood, AM and the day will literally be put on the map by many of the UKs most iconic structures changing their lights to the blue, green and turquoise of the charity to shop their support. Structures taking part are located in every part of the UK and Northern Ireland and include the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, the iconic Brighton and Falkirk wheels and with events in Wales, the Day would not be complete without venues in Wales joining in and Conway Castle, Caerphilly Castle and Caernarfon are all going to be lighting up in support.
“With the advent of PPS, the battle to beat Polio has taken an unexpected and unwelcome twist in the UK,” added Ted. “The experience and advice of our members is going to prove invaluable as PPS is something those countries where Polio remains endemic are going to have to confront with the millions of Polio survivors around the world. What we need to do is help those living with PPS now. Greater recognition from government and a national response hardly seems too much to ask and we are grateful to Lord Hunt in helping us state our case at what is the most significant time of the year for our national PPS campaign.”
The British Polio Fellowship provides support and information for its members along with others in the UK who live with the late effects of Polio and PPS. To find out more about The British Polio Fellowship and to learn about the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome visit the charity’s website at www.britishpolio.org.uk