National charity The British Polio Fellowship is targeting GPs as British Polio Month commenced with a splash on 7 July at Trinity School in Croydon. QVC presenter Julia Roberts was joined by other The British Polio Fellowship Ambassadors and authors. Team GB Paralympians James Crisp, Anne Wafula Strike and John Watts, plus author Gareth Williams, all participated in the fundraising curtain-raiser for British Polio Month, featuring Julia ‘swimming 100 lengths of the pool’ – as in her book by the same name describing how she used swimming as a coping strategy against Polio.
As part of British Polio Month, the charity has embarked on a communications campaign with GPs and health professionals, in order to raise awareness of a little understood condition called Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) affecting over 120,000 in the UK today.
The letter has been distributed to GP surgeries and mailed out to over 200 Clinical Commissioning Groups to circulate the letter to GPs in their geographical region, encourages GPs and health professionals to take a quick survey about PPS to help improve the speed of diagnosis for sufferers. Endorsed and personally signed by Julia Roberts and Team GB Paralympians Anne Wafula Strike and James Crisp, the GPs letter explains that PPS is a deteriorating neurological condition now formally recognised by the NHS. GPs can take the quick survey here.
Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship, said: “Despite the perception that Polio is consigned to the history books, it continues to be a very real health issue – with PPS affecting some 120,000 people in the UK today. Last year, a survey revealed that despite being as common as Parkinson’s disease, awareness amongst GPs of a fellow neurological condition, PPS, is perilously low resulting in a forgotten generation of Polio survivors struggling for diagnosis.”
The survey, undertaken by The British Polio Fellowship, revealed that 69 per cent of GPs rate their own level of knowledge of PPS as low and 42 per cent said they would feel the need to refer a suspected PPS case to a neurologist for diagnosis, an acknowledgment that there needs to be more awareness of the condition across the primary medical community.
PPS occurs in up to 80 per cent of people who have contracted Polio earlier in life. After a long time without any significant change in their condition, people may develop new or increasing muscle weakness and pain, chronic fatigue and stamina problems.
“One year on and pretty much nothing has changed”, adds Ted Hill. “Awareness is still dire and the feedback we get from Members suggests that GPs may still be generally in the dark on PPS. The positive news for GPs is that this is a condition for which they can, once armed with the information, create a successful management strategy and positively impact on the patient’s quality of life,” concludes Ted.
GPs, health professionals and the general public can contact The British Polio Fellowship for free information, on 0800 043 1935. GPs can also download factsheets on the condition from The British Polio Fellowship website, display literature in their practice and spread the word on PPS throughout their health professionals’ network. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk