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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to investigate how it could provide funding to support the appointment of a dedicated Multiple Sclerosis Nurse in the Western Isles.

Rhoda Grant wrote to Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon after the lack of an MS Clinical Nurse Specialist in the islands was raised by sufferers. This means that patients have to travel as far as Glasgow, and in some cases beyond, to access services.

The provision of an MS nurse 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.

Unfortunately this money is paid centrally and cannot be redirected elsewhere by NHS Western Isles. However, Rhoda Grant argued that the money for an MS Nurse should be funded from the savings made in the travel budget.In her reply Nicola Sturgeon said she had asked NHS Western Isles to submit a business case to her relating to the use of the travel budget. She adds: “We will be strongly supportive of any case that clearly demonstrates that savings can be achieved and services improved.”

Rhoda Grant said: “I firmly believe that it would be better to redirect some of the funding so NHS Western Isles can appoint a specialist MS nurse as this would save money from the NHS Health Travel budget in the longer term.

“I am pleased that Nicola Sturgeon has asked NHS Western Isles to provide a business case for an MS Nurse and hopefully she will be convinced that such a move will improve the service as well as achieve savings.”