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Post-polio Syndrome

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2017

My hon. Friend will be aware that polio was eradicated from the UK in the 1980s. However, between 25% and 80% of sufferers go on to development post-polio syndrome, a condition that, although not life-threatening, can be debilitating. The NHS response centres on structured self-management and pain relief and increasing referrals to both physio and occupational therapy.

As parliamentary ambassador for the British Polio Fellowship, I know that 93% of people are unaware of post-polio syndrome. Low awareness among GPs, and in the NHS more generally, is leaving patients waiting for up to six years for a diagnosis. Will the Government agree to fund a PPS awareness campaign?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his work for the British Polio Fellowship, which is a good charity that makes a real difference. He is right that the condition is difficult to diagnose; the symptoms are vague and there is no definitive test. NICE is updating its best practice, and the British Polio Fellowship has developed guidelines that we all need to use to build GP awareness of the condition.

As the Minister said, there is no specific test for diagnosing PPS, so will he outline what information is offered to medical professionals to diagnose and treat the syndrome to ensure that the symptoms are correctly collated and not put down to other untestable issues, such as fibromyalgia?

As I said, the symptoms are vague and there is no definitive test. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti) pointed out, awareness of the condition among GPs is not as high as it could be, so we need to do more, with the NICE guidelines and the work of the British Polio Fellowship, on GP education, training and information.