Transferring M.S. Treatment from U.S. to U.K.

Hello everyone,

My wife and I will be moving to the Cambridge area from the United States early next year. I’ve been getting treatment for M.S. for the last three years (late 2010) – 2 years on Copaxone, and now 7 months on Tysabri when the lesions in my brain showed increased activity, despite the Copaxone.

We’re in the process of figuring out what a move from the U.S. health system to the U.K. system means and are currently confronted with 2 prevailing concerns:

  1. Seeing as how Tysabri infusions are strictly scheduled for every 4 weeks, will I be able to find a doctor in advance of arrival in the U.K. who will be willing to send me to a Tysabri infusion in time for my next infusion? How do I find an M.S. doctor in time to set this up from across the Atlantic?

  2. Does the U.K. health care system cover the cost of medications or should we keep our American health care policies to cover it?

There will be a torrent of more questions as things progress with our move, but these are the first 2 to pop up. We’d be grateful for any advice that anyone can provide. We know very little about the health care system we’ll be headed in to and are in the early stages of our homework.


Hi paddy, I moved to the uk with ms a few years ago from abroad’ so I get the stress! It can take a while to get into see a ms consultant as you first need to find and register with a gp, then they make a referral and I was told it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to get an appointment but I also live in an area with a lot of ms consultants kicking about, so I don’t know if this is the norm? The 12 week wait was stressing me out because I would be out of avonex by then, my gp worked some magic and I got in within 3 weeks and only missed a few weeks of meds. Perhaps going on the web and finding the nearest hospital with a neurology department and calling them for advice? MS consultants work out of nhs hospitals, though I you can go private it costs a fortune and you still need to get a referral so it’s not worth it in my opinion… I did look into it. Once you are in the system, The medication is paid for by the nhs, so you wont need to use your us insurance for this. This is all assuming you are entitled to uk health care. It sounds like you are coming over on a work permit, so long as you are legally residing here, they consider you to have the right to health care, and there is no waiting period, you can go to a gp on the day you arrive. Would it be possible to come over from the us to the uk a few weeks ahead of time for a short visit to try and get the ball rolling? Once you have your work permit and an address you can register with a gp. Good luck with it all J

Thank you for the advice, jdog. Between you and other sources, it sounds like I need to find a GP first and just start going through the wickets. I am exploring the possibility of heading out there early to see a GP. Thankfully, travel would be during the low season (right after the holidays) so it may be cheaper than anticipated.

I was also pointed to the MS Trust organization, so between them and the MS Society, I’m hoping I can find a way to cut out a few weeks of the transition process.

I am coming over legally and working with a permit. I was told I have the option of sticking with my American private insurance company or to use the National Healthcare System.

Does anyone know what the consequences of missing a few weeks of Tysabri are?