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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 26 November 2007

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NHS Surplus Needed for Childhood MS

WITH news that the NHS will have as much as £1.8bn in unspent funds this year, the MS Society said they would like to see a portion of this ploughed into provision for childhood MS, which is currently massively under-resourced in the UK.  Until recently, multiple sclerosis (MS) was not known to affect children but recent research has indicated that as many as 9,000 children in the UK could be living with the condition.

Julie Henney from the MS Society North West in Liverpool said:- “Research and treatment for paediatric MS is suffering from a severe lack of funding and I am currently working with children and their families in the region and having to tell them there are no doctors who are specialised to care for them.”

The MS Society hosted a national event earlier this month on the subject and in March next year the North West will host MS Life, an event offering information on all aspects of living with MS, including support for anyone affected by or concerned about childhood MS.  Speaking at the event will be Dr Brenda Banwell, one of the world’s leading paediatric doctors and Director of the Paediatric MS Clinic in Toronto, who has just had her findings on MS in children published in medical journal the Lancet.

Chris Bentley, spokesperson for the MS Society said:- “We are delighted that Dr Banwell will be speaking at MS Life in Manchester, and we hope this event will highlight the need for greater support for children being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  The condition is so under-resourced that there aren’t even any concrete statistics available as to how many children in the UK have been diagnosed with MS and this needs to change urgently.”

The Health Minister Ben Bradshaw claimed the surplus NHS funds wasexcellent newsand said that it now meant “more flexibility for the health services and better care for patients.”

The MS Society and countless families in Manchester and the North West will be hoping that this is the case and that the money will go towards more efficient diagnosis and better medical support for the care of children with MS.

For more information on multiple sclerosis in young people contact the MS Society’s freephone helpline on 0808 800 8000.  MS Life 29 March 2008 to  30 March 2008 at Manchester Central

08 army called to action

LIVERPOOL'S 08 Volunteers are being equipped for life on the cultural front line.  With less than 6 weeks to go until the start of the city’s year as European Capital of Culture, the Liverpool Culture Company is hosting a special event to give volunteers an overview of what’s in store during 2008.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to attend the briefing, which takes place in the dramatic Great Hall of St George’s Hall today, Monday November 26. The occasion will also be a chance to issue volunteers with a new, environmentally-friendly uniform, provided by Ethel Austin, the official clothing supplier for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year.

Launched in June 2005, the 08 Volunteer programme was created to ensure a friendly welcome for the extra 1.7 million visitors Liverpool is expecting during 2008. Starting with an early core of just 25 volunteers, the number of trained volunteers is now in excess of 600. Dozens more are currently going through the training process, which will bring the total to around 1,000 by the New Year.

Councillor Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool city council and deputy chair of the Liverpool Culture Company, said:- “We’ve got a fantastic programme of cultural celebrations planned for 2008, which will attract visitors from across the world.  The 08 Volunteers will play a crucial role in ensuring that the year runs as smoothly as possible; whether helping out behind the scenes at major events, or welcoming visitors as they arrive at the new cruise liner terminal.  The volunteer programme will also provide an important legacy to 2008, by giving people the opportunity to develop new skills which they can use in other areas, including the job market.”

Kris Donaldson, acting chief executive of the Liverpool Culture Company, said:- “Over the last two and a half years we have worked hard to develop a volunteer programme with the capacity to help Liverpool deliver a truly fantastic 2008.  We’re incredibly proud of the 08 Volunteers, who have already shown enormous dedication and commitment during the numerous events they have taken part in. This event is a chance to thank them for their help, and give them a comprehensive briefing about what they can look forward to next year.”

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