Good news; I was discharged from hospital yesterday morning to complete my recovery and rehabilitation at home.  

My admission to hospital has reminded me what a great institution the NHS really is. All I want to say is that the NHS care I received was exceptional; very professional and full of deep caring and empathy. The staff on the trauma, orthopaedic and neurosurgery units at King’s College Hospital are truly exceptional. Thank you so much.

During my admission, some of the medics made excuses for some of the delays we encountered in the investigations and care I received during my stay. Interestingly, I didn’t really notice these delays, nor did I complain, nor did I comment on any of the issues that made excuses about; it was if they felt compelled to make excuses for the NHS inefficiencies because I was a Professor of Neurology. I simply responded that this was not a problem. What I should have pointed out to these commentators that whilst I was in hospital there was not a day when there wasn’t a shortage of nurses on the wards. In addition, many of the medical team were off due to COVID-19; either infected with the coronavirus or self-isolating due to being in contact with someone with COVID-19. People don’t realise that when it comes to value the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world. Being the best value healthcare system doesn’t mean we should accept the status quo, but rather we have a fantastic healthcare system, i.e. a platform on which to build excellence. 

For readers who don’t live in the UK, when I was discharged yesterday, with medication for 2-weeks and a clear follow-up and rehabilitation programme, I didn’t have to pay for a single thing. Yes care under the NHS is truly free at point-of-care. 

Healthcare in the UK, similar to other European countries,  is considered a basic human need and therefore everyone should have equal access to care. This does not equate to socialism as such, which is a rather overused term. It simply means that we the citizens of the UK feel that everybody, regardless of their background, should have access to healthcare if they need it. I am a true believer in the concept of universal healthcare. Saying this there is still wide variation in the NHS in relation to access to treatments and services. This is why we started the MS Academy’s “Raising the Bar”  or “RtB” initiative three years ago to tackle variance in the provision of MS Services in the UK. 

Whilst in hospital I watched the last two days of our RtB 2020 meeting and it made me realise that the RtB initiative now has momentum that will truly improve MS services for pwMS in the UK. If you haven’t seen the three RtB presentations I would urge you to watch and to join us and to get involved. We also had a few international HCPs sign-up for the 2020 RtB meeting, which is good news.  Why shouldn’t this become an international initiative?

As you can see I am back typing albeit very slowly in a drug-induced fog. I am only able to do this lying on my back using a pair of periscope glasses that I purchased for this purpose. As a result of my nerve and neck pain, I have to spend the majority of my day lying flat on my back in a neck brace.  I am unable to bend my neck as it causes too much pain. 

In addition, my fractured pelvis, which has been fixed (see below), is still very painful when I sit or walk. So I am resigned to a long slow recovery and hence I am unlikely to back to normal or work for several months. 

Thank you so much for your continuing to support our Barts-MS Coronavirus antibody study. Since my accident, there has been a surge in donations.

I am thinking of setting myself another challenge to raise money for this initiative. At the moment I am EDSS 6.5; I can walk maybe 20 metres using crutches. Will you sponsor me to become EDSS 4.0 in 4 weeks time, i.e. to walk 500 m without crutches or support?  I am prepared to do this if you will support me as it is critical that we get the first phase of this study done before the coronavirus vaccine arrives. What do you think?

P.S. I have set-up a Just Giving page called “Prof G’s EDSS 6.5 to 4.0 Challenge“; all of the money will go to Queen Mary University of London to support Dr Ruth Dobson’s and Dr Angray Kang’s COVID-19 MS Antibody study. Thank you.

CoI: multiple

Twitter: @gavinGiovannoni  Medium: @gavin_24211

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • Good to hear from you Gavin and whilst we all want a speedy recovery, take your time. I’ll raise a glass of decent wine to your good health later today (but not much later though!)

    • Good News Prof G. I am currently abroad and living in fear of what might happen if I fall sick. This is inspite of having all the health insurances. NHS is the best institution ever invented in any country. Thank god the looney trump was voted out and wanted to destroy NHS so like Americans only those at the top of the food chain had access to latest medicines. Would trump/tramp survived covid if he was a member of ethnic minority in States?

  • Prof G, I wish you all the best with your rehabilitation. Hopefully you’ll get some proper rest now you’re at home.

  • “At the moment I am EDSS 6.5; I can walk maybe 20 metres using crutches. Will you sponsor me to become EDSS 4.0 in 4 weeks time, i.e. to walk 500m without crutches or support?” I think we could raise £10m if you / your team could deliver this improvement for MS patients!

    I wish you a speedy recovery.

      • Well spotted MD1. The point I was making is that the NHS (or any healthcare system) is great if they get you better ie you are treated and then go home to recover (fully). This isn’t the case with progressive MS, Parkinson’s, MND etc. Prof G (and I really wish him a speedy recovery) is experiencing EDSS 6.5. For progressive MSers who reach this milestone it is followed by an irreversible rise up the EDSS scale. We really need to rethink what MS is and how it should be effectively treated so that progressive MSers can experience the joy of getting better / improving (or at the least not getting worse). 2020 has not been a good year for MS research – Biotin (fail), Bexarotene (fail), anti-lingo anti-body (fail); MS research (knocked off track by Covid); and just as things are looking up with vaccines our top dog / top hope comes out second best against a motorbike! I think Prof G will be feeling better by Christmas (and at least we don’t have to put up with the wretched Mouse Advent Calendar).

        • Advent Calendar. Careful what you wish for it sounds like you are egging me on to do it….maybe I will do one using the porno version of the broken pelvis originally posted (which I have now removed and cropped) and you can pay me not to reveal all on the 25th

          • 😂😂😂
            MD You really do make me laugh
            Prof G – I am do glad you are recovering, hoping you will continue to improve rapidly. EDSS 4 here you come, off to sponsor you now.

          • LOL one with a good sense of humor as choppy like that is in sleep deprivation, good time for a CT Scan or MRI. Haha

        • Not a great year but not too bad as well. Ofatumumab, ozanimod and siponimod approved (even if not yet worldwide) on the other hand there are 3 BTKi in phase 3 trials. Chariot MS is about to start for SPMS people with high disability. Sizomus should be in a similar position as the first trial to do something never done before in MS history. All tackling unanswered questions with the experience built on the past therapies and studies. We will not reverse but maybe next years will tell us a lot and if anything of the above stops demyelination we may benefit of some remyelination.
          About new definition of MS, I think MSologists are discussing about it and maybe this talk has been already ongoing for some time.

  • Great progress 😎👏🏼
    Ok, about the NHS. I know the “single payer” model is a respectable goal.
    Everyone gets access to care equally, no charge, quality is good.
    In the USA 🇺🇸 our system of Healthcare is a hodgepodge of private, public, self pay, no pay (hospital system charity) . In the USA, you would probably have a good health insurance policy as a Dr. working in private or public hospital. There would be a pending lawsuit settlement for the motorist who hit you. You would probably have copays for inpatient care and meds. If you were poor or uninsured, there are programs which you could apply for like government healthcare for poor Medicaid or “free care” as part of hospitals’ Hill Burton act requiring they provide some free care for non profit status. Elderly and younger disabled like myself have Medicare. I have a Retiree Medicare supplemental plan for myself and my husband which covers deductibles. I earned that Benefit and took less salary because I had good benefits. A few self pay people stuck with a bill can pay over time. It really is a fragmented system. But flipping a switch to Single Payer System isn’t easy. For one thing Americans Don’t like standing in line, waiting, being told there are limits to their healthcare. Another is the general distrust of government deciding, well, anything. Best Wishes on your healing. Don’t overdo it.

    • That’s wonderful news Prof. G! May you have a speedy recovery. Rest rest rest. Slow and steady wins the race. I appreciate that you took this opportunity to contrast the UK’s universal system with the US. health system, which needs reform. Reform
      Has been thwarted by cries of socialism made with a McCarthyism fevor by individuals who are generally affluent. My family has a so called “Cadillac coverage” health plan through my husband’s employer: we pay a portion of the premium coverage. Nevertheless, When my daughter was in significant distress due to asthma, her primary care was booked so i was instructed to take her to the emergency room. It cost $2,000 because it was not deemed an “acute” attack. A month later, it happened again, and I had another $2,000 bill. The third time it occurred, I refused to bring my child to the emergency room and spent the entire night at bedside watching her breathe. In my state, health creditors can put liens on one’s assets. On a payment plan to pay off the $4k, I had incentive to not go to the emergency room and wait for a scheduled visit when I had stomach pain due to appendicitis . My scheduled operation to remove my appendix as an outpatient cost $1,800. that’s $5,800 out of pocket in less than one year. And what about chronic conditions and multiple prescriptions? My current PT is $40 a visit x 2x a week. One can imagine how quickly the copays add up if you throw OT and speech on top. Or God forbid one also needs mental health visits, you may or may not be covered at all. On aside, make no mistake, if there is a personal injury lawsuit, the insurer and health care providers get first dibs at any or all the settlement funds. Finally, If one is relatively young like myself, I don’t qualify for retirement benefits or social security disability, which is notoriously difficult for young MSers. The middle class in the US needs to do a better job listing actual health care expenses because it seems to me that Policy makers who block healthcare reform have no idea.
      Off the soapbox, Focus on healing now Prof G, the world has a lot of issues to tackle and it will wait until you are ready. 😉

    • Not necessarily true. If you are below the poverty line, and you are admitted to the Hospital for medically needed care you care the billing office to see kid they participate in Charity care! They will meal you and application,or you can pick one up at the hospital! You will have to prove you applied for something of Medical Assistance from Department of Medical Assistance, I don’t know what it is called in all states, but if a patient comes across my desk,and was in the hospital. You will also have to provide your checking and savings and retirement acct to see if you qqualify.

  • Good news, please continue to follow doctor’s advice & allow the time your body needs to make a full & lasting recovery. No doubt the brain stimulation you get being able to type (& read more easily?) with those fancy new glasses will help. Cheers

  • My daughter, Anna, and I wish you a highly successful recovery which WILL happen if you can be a little bit patient. Listen to your physios and also rest up too. We can empathise with what you’re going through!
    Have made a donation 😁

  • What you are managing to achieve while still so crocked up is nothing short of miraculous. Now I get MDs “U boat reference. A long post like this must have cost you a lot in pain. Walking 500m unaided in a month is just the sort of challenge a man with 3 dirty great long rods holding himself together is likely to set himself. Dig deep MS people.
    And I agree with everything you said about the NHS. I have been known to use the broken pelvis analogy when going off the deep end in waiting rooms when I hear someone moaning. As in “Try being knocked off your bike and having a broken pelvis in the States as our best man did.” One had to get compensated by the biker, while my spouse had the treatment here free, for the same injury. Now the pandemic is stretching the system even further, we have to listen to weasel words from politicians who have traditionally cut its funding to the bone.
    Get well, get rest, look after yourself Prof G.

  • Good to hear you are back home, and seem to be regaining a relatively dark sense of humour. Fully support the change in the direction of your fundraising but do be careful on those screws… For the record I’m sure we’d also all donate to the “Prof G to complete Netflix whilst gently convalescing after osteosynthesis challenge”; if you decide you want to lower the bar.

    • Agree with Bertie above – no need to put yourself under pressure to raise more funds. Sure lots of us will keep chipping in!
      On a different note, agree with all you say about the NHS. Having received medical care in UK and N America it is evident the whole ethos in the former is about the person while the latter is ultimately about profit; the difference can be “felt” as well as actually “itemised” in terms of what you “get” in terms of treatment
      Hope your recovery continues to go smoothly! 🙂💪💪

  • Steady on Prof G; I fear the drugs may be talking. Rest up and slow down to meet the target of full rehabilitation. You are sounding like Competitive Dad from The Fast Show!

  • Hello Prof G. I hope you are recovering well and feeling better each day. Best wishes and make sure you take your time to recuperate fully.

    If you have Netflix I recommend The Queen’s Gambit and Babylon Berlin.

    Reading recommendations:
    Jan Morris, Venice,
    Stephen Moss, The Accidental Countryside,
    Michel Bussi, Black Waterlilies,
    Amy Tan,The Joy Luck Club,
    Andrew Sean Greer, Less

  • Ive just told my grandson the story of the hare and tortoise race, so take it steady Gavin. Yes indeed, the NHS is worth cherishing. Sounds like you are a good patient too!

  • ProfG don’t over do, we want you back in the time it will take you to recover. We don’t want you to take unnecessary risks that may further delay your return to full health!
    Take care and have rest!!

  • Gavin, you are an inspiration. As soon as you can get into aquatic therapy, you will not have any pelvic pain and you recovery will be much faster. You can then use your periscope lenses as goggles. Aqua jogging is much better than walking as you are weightless until you bones can take the weight again.

    you will be an EDSS of 1.0 much faster that way !

  • So glad to hear of your discharge Prof G and wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery. I will certainly sponsor you again. Fancy thinking of us all from your sickbed!

    I have 2 questions

    1) that X-ray is fascinating – the metal rod that goes straight across your pelvis, where exactly is that inside of you? Looks like it’s right through the middle 🙂 am finding it hard to picture!

    2) MD suggested messaging Dr Ruth Dobson about involvement in the antibody trial might be a good idea but I don’t know how to do that. I think I might be an interesting case for it – on anti CD20 but delayed my dose in September due to covid risk as HCW (my consultant called it a treatment holiday which sounds much more fun than it is!). Also my husband currently has covid on day 8 and I’m asymptomatic. If contacting isn’t the best thing to do, then I will simply continue donating and look forward to your results anyway!

    Thanks and take care

    • The two screws across my pelvis are through the sacrum (back of the pelvis) to stabilise the sacrum where I had one long fracture. I fractured both superior and inferior rami of the pubic bones. The fractures were complete, i.e. through the rami on the right and only partial in the left (cracked). The diagonal screw is into the right superior pubic ramus is to stabilise this fracture. The surgeon who took my pelvis on is an early adopter and the used an interoperative 3D x-ray guidance system to make sure he missed the nerves. I am told that he and King’s College unit is the only orthopaedic unit to have adopted this technology at present. I was told that this technology reduces the risk of nerve damage from the procedure from around 1 in 20 to less than 1 in 100. How lucky am I?

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