# 14-2022 Community Advisor News

Kia ora koutou,

The last month has seen lots of change from a blazing winter storm, celebrating Matariki through to major health reforms.  You can read more about the health reforms in this update along with Pharmac changes for better access to disease modifying treatments for relapsing remitting MS.  There are some great free education and upskilling opportunities to take advantage of this month and a call for support when the Stem Cell (HSCT) petition is presented to parliament on 26 July.


Health & disability system transformation

1 July was a significant date for a number of changes within our Health system with the transition to Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand, the new crown entity responsible for health services across the motu, partnering closely with the newly established Te Aka Whai Ora - Māori Health Authority and the establishment Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.  We hope that these changes will see better health outcomes for all over time, especially for Tangata Whaikaha - people with disabilities, along with better access, inclusion and equity for this community.


It’s important to note that healthcare won’t change immediately – when people need care, they will still go to the same providers and the same hospital that they do now.  For more information on the health reforms, see






COVID-19 update

What’s happening?

There is still plenty of COVID-19 circulating in the community, a new sub-Omicron variant, BA.5 thought to be more transmissible and the likelihood of a second wave of infection building.  This, together with the flu and other viruses, is a potent combination that is putting people at risk and creating additional pressures on our hospitals and primary health care.  The Ministry of Health are seeing many reinfections, so the protocol has been updated in terms of testing and isolating.


Another booster

A second COVID-19 booster is recommended for those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.  Many people with MS will meet the criteria including those on the disease modifying therapies fingolimod (Gilenya) or ocrelizumab (Ocrevus).  For more information on eligibility for the second dose you can check with your GP, Healthline and click here:



Need a RAT?

Our Community Advisors have a limited supply of RAT kits so if you are having difficulty getting RAT’s please contact me.



Influenza (the flu)

The flu is well and truly embedded in the community.  It is vastly different to a common cold and puts people at risk especially with the concurrent circulation of COVID-19.  For information on flu vaccines click here:



NB it takes about two weeks to develop protection from the flu after having a vaccine.



The Economic Burden of MS in NZ Information Release: 8th June 2022

Earlier intervention of Multiple Sclerosis will benefit people with MS and the New Zealand economy.  A recently released report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), commissioned by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand (MSNZ) shows that earlier intervention of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will not only save New Zealand’s health system millions of dollars per year, it will also contribute millions back into the economy through individual income related earnings.  In 2021 the total estimated employment related loss for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was $82 million.  Additionally, the total social cost associated with the prevalence of MS was estimated to be $266.3 million in the same period.

To read more:



Education & upskilling

Treating Multiple Sclerosis

Join the Neurological Foundation free event to hear from Professor Anne La Flamme who will be discussing the development of disease-modifying therapies for MS.

Treating Multiple Sclerosis, Wellington, 28th of July | Humanitix


Free online legal education sessions

Register for Auckland District Law’s July 2022 free online legal education sessions.  These introductory Zoom sessions are designed for Disabled and Deaf People and supporters.  These easy to understand sessions aim to significantly simplify the law around disability disclosure when job seeking and reasonable accommodations at work.

1)     Pre-Employment Disability Disclosure and the Law
        Tuesday 26 July 2022, 6pm-7pm

When to tell an employer about your disability.

What to tell an employer about your disability.

        Register by 20 July 2022
2)     Reasonable Accommodations and the Law
        Thursday 28 July 2022, 6pm-7pm

What are reasonable accommodations at work.

Asking for the accommodations you need to do the job. 

        Register by 22 July 2022
To register give your name, email address, contact phone number,  and where you live, along with the date and name of the session(s) you want to attend.  Please email  info@adl.org.nz , or text 027 457 5140, or call 09 257 5140 and leave a message. 


Stress reduction techniques in MS

We probably all know the importance of managing stress with MS.  Dr Jonathan White writes about the latest research from NEU on the link between stress-reducing activities and levels of fatigue, depression and mastery in people with MS.

Stress reduction techniques in MS – can they really help?! | Overcoming MS


For our seniors

Staying Safe for older drivers

New course dates! Staying Safe is a FREE classroom based refresher workshop for senior road users. Age Concern runs these workshops in partnership with Waka Kotahi (NZTA). Come along to refresh your knowledge of the road rules, find out how medication affects our driving and connect with others. Plus lunch is provided!


Courses start at 10am and run till 2pm.

  • Wednesday, 20 July 2022, Miramar
  • Thursday, 21 July 2022, Johnsonville
  • Tuesday, 26 July 2022, Lower Hutt
  • Thursday, 28 July 2022, Upper Hutt
  • Thursday, 4 August 2022, Te Aro
  • Monday, 8 August 2022, Seatoun

For more information and to register, click here:

Staying Safe Refresher Driving Course | Age Concern Wellington (acwellington.org.nz)


Steady as you go exercise classes

Every Wednesday at 9:30 am there is a live-streamed Steady as You Go class on Zoom. It's open to anyone - you don't need any prior experience. It is a gentle entry-level exercise class designed for seniors. All you need to do is register by filling in the form online - click the blue button below.

Community Support Services | Age Concern Wellington (acwellington.org.nz)



Pharmac  widening access to funding of disease modifying medications

The new criteria will no longer require those clinically diagnosed with MS to wait for a second episode of symptoms, attack or relapse, before they can begin treatment. These changes have come into effect as of 1 July 2022.

Pharmac announces first round of medicine funding decisions following $191m pharmaceutical budget increase - Pharmac | New Zealand Government


HSCT petition to Parliament 26 July

You may recall in a previous update about the petition for HSCT (haemopoietic stem cell treatment) to become a funded and available treatment in Aotearoa New Zealand for people with MS.  Over 10,000 signatures have been obtained which is a wonderful result and the petition will be handed over on the steps of parliament on Tuesday 26 July at 12.30pm.  Please come and support the significant mahi by Joan Perry and Anne Besley.



Total Mobility – discounted taxi cards

REMINDER: If you haven’t used your card for 3 years it will be cancelled.  Don’t get caught short, if you’d like your card reactivated or need a new one, please email me.  NB in some situations a new assessment may need to be completed.

Fares will be half price on all Metlink buses, ferries and trains until 31 August 2022, this also includes He Ratonga Tekehī the Total Mobility service.  If people hold a Community Services card, then the half price fare continues after 1 August .  For full information click here:

Total Mobility » Metlink



Need to talk to a MS Community Advisor?

Our service is still operating in this COVID-19 environment and at “Orange” we are working with people face to face (when it’s safe) as well as continuing contact by phone, email and video conferencing.  It is still important to continue to use all those important public health measures such as, staying home if unwell, wearing masks when possible, maintaining some physical distance.  Take a look at the attached PDF which outlines our policy, under the Orange Traffic Light setting, in working with our clients. 


Please note that we do not provide an urgent or emergency service.  If you need this level of service, you can contact your GP, phone Healthline on 0800 611 116, visit your Emergency Department or phone 111 in the event of an emergency.


Ngā mihi,



Gillian Fry

Manager & Lead Community Advisor

Wellington Multiple Sclerosis Society Inc.
Phone: 04 388 8127 Hutt Valley, 04 298 8887 Kapiti
Email:  gillian@mswellington.org.nz
Web:    www.mswellington.org.nz