Multiple Sclerosis: Stem Cells

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, why my constituent’s stem cell treatment for MS has been halted due to NHS England’s decision to no longer allow GPs to refer patients for the treatment.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason Ms Helen Townsend’s Stem Cell treatment for MS was halted part way through as a result of NHS England's decision that GPs can longer refer people for the treatment and that patients must now be referred by a MS Neurology Specialist.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the effect of NHS England’s decision not to allow GPs to refer patients for Stem Cell treatment for MS on (a) patient health and (b) West Lancashire constituent Ms Townsend's (i) halted treatment and (b) recovery.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

NHS England first published its commissioning policy in 2013, revised in 2015, which permits access to autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) as a clinical option for some patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The commissioning policy is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2015/01/b04-haematp-stem-cll-transplt.pdf

As with any HSCT there are risks to the procedure and when considering this treatment for patients with MS the balance of risk and benefit must be carefully assessed for each patient. Neurologists and transplant doctors in the United Kingdom are guided by the recommendations of the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, published in 2012, and the guidance of the British Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation when considering the suitability of transplant. These criteria restrict the use of autologous HSCT to a small group of MS patients with high levels of inflammatory activity despite one or more approved disease modifying therapies and very rare patients with 'malignant' forms of MS. Patients should be assessed by both MS and transplant specialists.

Neurologist and transplant doctors should be guided by these recommendations and decisions related to a patient’s care are a matter for clinicians.

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