Urge for MS Nurse as NHS Western Isles agree need to develop neurological services

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Highlands and Islands Regional Labour Party Candidate Rhoda Grant has urged NHS Western Isles to appoint a dedicated Multiple Sclerosis Nurse.

She was speaking after NHS Western Isles management announced that it was recommending to the Board the development a neurology service to help patients with MS rather than a specialist nurse.

Rhoda Grant said: “While I welcome the announcement this does not alter the fact that a nurse dedicated to treating MS sufferers in the Western Isles is needed. This would not only cut the number of times patients would have to travel long distances for treatment but it would also mean Telemedicine could be used for consultations with consultants, thus saving the NHS’s Health Travel budget a large amount of money.

“I am in regular contact with the local MS sufferers group and I know they will be disappointed that a dedicated Multiple Sclerosis Nurse is not being recommended. Hopefully the Board of NHS Western Isles will add the appointment of an MS Specialist Nurse to this proposal.”

She added: “Following our meeting with Gordon Jamieson a few weeks ago we were given the impression that the scoping report came out strongly for the appointment of an MS Nurse. I appears to me that senior managers are not taking these findings into account and are riding roughshod over the needs of the community they should be serving. The 4,846 people who signed our petition supporting the appointment of an MS Nurse are being ignored.”

On Tuesday NHS Western Isles agreed in principle the need to further develop neurological services and enhance local support for patients with MS and other neurological conditions.

The Board’s Corporate Management Team considered the recommendations of a scoping report and a needs analysis which provided detail on the prevalence of MS in the Western Isles. Other factors considered in the Option Appraisal included the needs and priorities of local people with MS, national policy drivers and guidelines, and long-term service sustainability.

Various recommendations were considered, ranging from the status quo to the employment of an MS nurse or a neurological specialist nurse.

Members endorsed the appointment of neurological nursing support and enhanced services for local people with neurological conditions, subject to a source of funding being identified and secured.

The result of the needs analysis highlighted the need to improve the neurological service to every individual with MS, and that education, advice and expertise on MS should be available locally.

MS is one of the most common neurological conditions in the UK and the Western Isles but is one of an increasing number of debilitating long-term neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, epilepsy and M.E) suffered by individuals in the Western Isles which were taken into account when coming to a decision on this matter.

NHS Western Isles considered that there was potential to develop neurological nursing support to enhance the level of local support and management of complex neurological conditions, including MS. As part of the enhanced service, the Board would develop strengthened links with neurology specialists on the mainland and further enhance tele-neurology services, to include MS support specifically.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “The Option Appraisal paper was considered carefully and the consensus was that the evidence base strongly indicated the benefit of developing a Neurological Specialist Service that could provide support to individuals with a range of neurological conditions, including MS.

“This option will provide specialist services to a wide range of people and will potentially improve the quality of life for these individuals.”

The matter will be presented to the Board for consideration after the election period.