Martin Whitfield MSP has joined colleagues this week in showing support for a campaign to ensure that everyone in Scotland with a neurological condition can access the support they need.
He joined campaigners from the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland at Holyrood as they handed in an open letter to the Public Health Minister Maree Todd MSP. With more than 1,000 signatures, the letter urges the Scottish Government to address the crisis in neurology care and take steps to ensure everyone with MS can access the support they need.
Despite one in five people in Scotland living with a neurological condition, findings from the MS Society’s #NeurologyNow report – released in October – reveal that neurology services are severely stretched, underfunded, and overlooked. The report also exposes the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on already-struggling neurology services.
The findings reveal that:
- Only 1 in 10 neurology professionals say their service has complete access to the range of professionals’ people with MS need.
- Almost two thirds (63%) of neurology professionals find it extremely or very challenging to provide a good service to all their patients.
- During the pandemic people with MS experienced their symptoms worsening, with over half (53%) saying this was caused by not getting specialist support.
The research follows a Public Health Scotland report from June 2021, which showed over 15,500 Scots – the equivalent number of people living with MS in Scotland – are waiting for an outpatient neurology appointment, up 25% from December 2020.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“The findings of the Neurology Now report underline the worrying state of neurology services and care. Even prior to the pandemic we know that these services were patchy in many parts of Scotland, with too many Scots living with MS or other neurological conditions simply unable to access the right care.
“It is vitally important that the Scottish Government acts now to fix this and ensure everyone with MS can access the services and support they need. That’s why I’ve been supporting the MS Society Scotland’s campaign for neurology and MS services to be available to everyone who needs them as we emerge from Covid.”
Morna Simpkins, Director of MS Society Scotland, said:
“The findings from our report are deeply troubling. Neurology and MS services have been stretched, underfunded and overlooked for years and this can’t continue.
“MS can be relentless, painful and disabling, so having access to the right professional support at the right time is essential. Healthcare professionals, like MS nurses, want to support people with MS – but there simply isn’t enough of them and the backlog from the pandemic is huge. We need to see urgent action from both the Scottish and UK Governments to address this crisis – they’re close to breaking point.”
To find out more about the MS Society’s #NeurologyNow campaign, visit www.mssociety.org.uk/now-neuro