Glasgow Evening Times
A Glasgow man who has Multiple Sclerosis today pleaded with health bosses for the chance to be a proper father to his child.
Ken Wilson was told last year he should get the drug beta interferon which helps prevent disabling attacks of MS for many patients.
But his condition has worsened following delays in him being assessed for the drug and he has now been told he will not get it for at least a year after the health board axed new funding.
He is now urging health bosses to think again.
Ken, 39, is unable to look after his five-year-old daughter Amy when he has an attack - effectively leaving his wife Catherine to cope as a single parent.
The civil servant, from Old Drumchapel, first saw his GP after suffering dizziness and falling while playing football.
He said: "I'd had problems for a while and didn't do anything about it, but when Amy was born I took it seriously."
Ken now has difficulty in walking short distances but his life could be improved enormously by the drug.
Three hospital appointments have been cancelled and he has now been told he will have to wait until September for an assessment.
He said: "I know I have deteriorated since last year and I can't afford to wait any longer."
Ken has severe MS attacks lasting from days to months and each attack leaves him weaker than before.
He said: "At first I could do everything you would expect of a father but I can't do that now.
He admitted: "My wife effectively has to cope as a single parent when I am having a relapse.
"At the moment I am working, I can drive and I can walk a bit but when I have a relapse, I can't even get out of bed or do simple things like getting dressed."
Ken says he has "an existence, not a life" and he is missing out on being a father.
"When Amy goes to her dance classes, or even just the shops, Catherine has to take her.
"I want to do more. I deserve the chance."
Last week the Evening Times revealed NHS Greater Glasgow had slashed this year's budget for beta interferon after being forced to make £7million savings.
Just 71 of an estimated 240 people eligible for treatment in Glasgow get the drug but the health board insists only one in six of them enjoy significant health benefits.
The board has also invested in services for patients not helped by the drug, including a £160,000 a year grant to an MS treatment centre in Maryhill.
Public health consultant Dr John Womersley said: "I believe the whole package of measures developed in recent years provides an appropriate response to the needs of all MS patients."
Ken knows what the future could bring after losing his mother, Jane, who died from MS in 1990, aged just 58.
He said: "You have to use a wheelchair and get worse until you can't breathe. At the end you choke to death."
Ken admits to being scared about what the future holds.
"Every time you have a relapse you're thinking 'Is this it? Will I get
out of this?'."
He feels the blame lies with local health bosses.
Ken said: "The Minister told health boards last year to ensure every patient who could benefit should get the drug. They should have ring-fenced money to pay for it."
"The drug does not help everyone but it's my one shot at staying healthy.
I don't want to be sitting in a wheelchair thinking 'If only'."
Copyright © 2003 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited.