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MSP calls for top Scots neurological centre

December 2, 2003
Andrew Denholm
The Scotsman

SCOTS who suffer from neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis are often given the wrong treatment, according to an independent MSP who suffers from Parkinsonís disease.

Margo MacDonald, who was diagnosed with the condition in 1996, has called for the Scottish Executive to set up a centre of excellence to improve the treatment for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and ME.

The move follows concern that neurological diseases are not being given sufficient priority by the Executive.

In a Scottish Parliament motion, Ms MacDonald, MSP for the Lothians, called for recognition for the "many thousands of individuals" living with chronic neurological illnesses in Scotland.

"One of the major causes of stress in this population is fatigue associated with their condition," she said. "Given the range of illnesses and care needs, patients are often given inappropriate treatment and medications."

Ms MacDonald called on the Executive to establish a centre of excellence to "assess, treat and research ways of managing and improving such individualsí life quality".

"Any centre should be promoted in such a manner ... to ensure that GPs and other health professionals are informed of this new service and are encouraged to refer patients as the need arises," she added.

Ms MacDonald, in hospital recovering from a leg infection, was absent yesterday.

However, Alex Fergusson, a Tory MSP who chairs the cross-party group on ME, said there was rising frustration that not enough was being done to co-ordinate action to tackle neurological diseases.

"We have very many experts across Scotland who do a lot of very good work, but the feeling from sufferers is that not enough is done to get these diseases up the political agenda," he said.

A spokesman for the Executive said that there had been a "significant rise" in the number of consultant neurologists and specialist nurses.

"Our preferred way, shared by clinicians, is to develop clinical networks which should manage all patientsí symptoms, but we would welcome any research proposals from clinical groups."

Copyright © 2003, The Scotsman