Referral delays key to improving MS support

© Minerva Studio

Eight in ten patients contacted by specialist nurse within ten days of diagnosis

Wednesday 11th September 2019

A new report finds most patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are being contacted by a dedicated support worker quickly after diagnosis.

The condition, which affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leads to vision, mobility and balance problems that can worsen over time.

Eight in ten patients were contacted by a specialist MS nurse within ten working days of diagnosis compared to just over four in ten in 2012.

Health officials say making the referral process quicker is key to seeing more people get reassurance during what can be a stressful and anxious time after diagnosis.

Grampian health board brought in an electronic referral system for all patients diagnosed at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, while NHS Borders moved from sending referrals by letter to an email system.

MS is more common further north – across Grampian and the Highlands and islands – and health services are bringing in a ‘buddy’ system to cover holiday periods for areas covered by individual workers.

A total of 536 patients were diagnosed with MS in 2018 – bringing the figure for Scotland since 2010 to more than 4,000.