MS Ireland Advocates for Crucial Neurorehabilitation Services

Last week, Alison Cotter, Advocacy Officer for MS Ireland, addressed the Oireachtas Committee on Health, emphasising the indispensable role played by voluntary sector providers in delivering specialist neurorehabilitation services. 

As the Vice Chair of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), she underscored the necessity of extending support beyond the 12-week window provided by Community Neurorehabilitation Teams (CNRTs), enabling individuals to sustain independence and quality of life within their communities.

Cotter stressed the importance of further investment to support longer-term community neurorehabilitation services, highlighting the incongruity of intensive short-term rehabilitation without adequate long-term support. She acknowledged the vital contributions of voluntary sector providers and urged sustained funding to maintain these essential services. 

One such crucial service is respite care, which MS Ireland has been providing for many years. Cotter detailed the proposed expansion of MS Ireland's national MS respite centre to offer more bed nights, relieving pressure on carers and providing opportunities for peer support. She shared stories of individuals who have greatly benefited from these services, emphasising their profound impact on improving quality of life. 

Furthermore, Cotter highlighted the achievements of MS Ireland in reducing healthcare utilisation through specialised physiotherapy programmes which MS Ireland have been providing for over 25 years, including online services developed during the pandemic. These initiatives have demonstrated significant reductions in hospital bed days and falls among people with MS, underscoring the long-term benefits of continuous support. 

Cotter expressed gratitude to committee members for their engagement, recognising the leadership of NAI Executive Director Magdalen Rogers, NAI Chair Pascal Derrien, and Richelle Flanagan for their valuable contributions during the session. 

The full committee hearing is available for viewing at