MS sufferers facing ‘treatment lottery’

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Multiple sclerosis suffers in the district have amongst the worst access to specialist nurses in the country according to a new report.

The MS Society says 37 per cent of sufferers surveyed in North Lancashire who needed to see a nurse in the last 12 months had not been able to.

Andy Ferguson, who has MS and is a support volunteer for the Lancaster and Morecambe branch of the charity, believes it is a serious problem.

The 45-year-old said: “I’ve heard of people in my role who have had problems getting an appointment when they’ve needed one.

“Access to nurses is extremely vital.

“I think it’s a very serious issue for MS sufferers in the area.”

There are three MS nurses based at the Royal Preston Hospital covering the whole of Lancashire. Another post has been vacant for some time.

Andy, who has been a volunteer for two-and-a-half years for the charity that has bases on St Leonardgate, Lancaster, and the Lighthouse Care Centre on Townley Street, Morecambe, said: “One extra nurse would make so much difference, the vacant MS Nurse post is a big issue.”

A spokesperson from NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The CCG is committed to improving the health care of all its residents and enabling them to have equitable access to the appropriate service for their clinical need.”

In contrast to North Lancashire, Cumbria rated as one of the best places in England for access to MS Nurses, with 94 per cent of people who’d needed to see one in the last 12 months saying they’d been able to.

Nick Rijke, Director for Policy and Research at the MS Society, said: “People with MS are facing a lottery when it comes to accessing the care and support they need to manage their condition and this must change.”

One hundred thousand people live with multiple sclerosis in the UK. High profile sufferers include Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy and Sharon.