MS patients worried about receiving care

Geraldine Ward was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago. Pic: Alan Watson
Geraldine Ward was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago. Pic: Alan Watson

The North Lanarkshire branch of the MS Society have expressed concern about future care of those with the condition.

This comes after NHS Lanarkshire’s only specialist MS nurse quit her position after six years, allegedly due to an overwhelming caseload.

Around 1600 people have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Lanarkshire and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust ­recommends one specialist nurse for every 358 patients.

Only four health boards in Scotland actually meet this provision.

Members of the North Lanarkshire branch of the MS Society will meet with NHS Lanarkshire on Monday to discuss the matter.

Branch member Geraldine Ward was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago. She said: “There is a lot of people very worried about what is going to happen with their treatment now that the only specialist MS nurse in the county has quit.

“It is a strong word to say she was loved by her patients, but that’s exactly what she was, everyone thought very highly of her.

“Even with the difficulties of having a caseload more than four times the recommended level she was always there when we needed her.

“NHS Lanarkshire has put in two temporary nurses to cover, but they aren’t specialists and even if they do bring one in we don’t know when that will be and will they just be overwhelmed by the workload as well?”

NHS Lanarkshire says it has advertised for a specialist MS nurse and hopes to recruit a second through the MS Trust.

Maria Docherty, nurse director for South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “I want to strongly reassure patients their care and safety is our number one priority.

“We have acted quickly to start recruiting a replacement MS specialist nurse. We have also put in place cover provided by very experienced nurses with advanced clinical skills and some experience of dealing with patients with MS.

“Covering arrangements will remain in place until a new MS specialist nurse starts and we will ensure patients receive whatever support they need during this time to continue their safe and appropriate care.

“We are entering a hugely positive time for MS specialist services in Lanarkshire. We are working with the MS Trust with the intention of appointing a second MS nurse specialist and will carry out a review to ensure the right services are in place to best meet patients’ needs.”