12:00 - 21 February 2003
Patients are being denied a "wonder drug" to treat multiple sclerosis because of a shortage of consultants.
More than 1,000 people from Notts, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire are still waiting to be assessed for beta interferon. The Government said last February it would be available on the NHS.
But it ordered that only specially-appointed consultants at regional centres could assess patients to see if they were suitable for treatment.
The Queen's Medical Centre, one of the 58 assessment centres, has only been able to recruit one specialist to do the work.
Since last November only 440 out of the 1,500 MS sufferers in the region have been seen, with nearly half being assessed as suitable for treatment. Hospital bosses warn it will take nine months to clear the backlog,
Sufferer Kate Eggleston, 31, of Long Bennington, has been going blind over the past year.
Mrs Eggleston said: "My symptoms might not have progressed as rapidly if I'd been offered it sooner."
Mary Pearson, 64, of Long Eaton, a beta interferon campaigner, has paid for the drug for the last three years.
"My quality of life is so much better," she said. "It should have been made available for all for many years now."
A QMC spokesman said the hospital was working hard to clear the backlog.
The Department of Health said the system will speed up over the next
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