Jun 4 2004
The Western Mail
TWO Welsh doctors have been included in an A-Z of doctors making a difference by going the extra mile.
Their innovative developments in patient care have been singled out as among the best in the UK.
Consultant neurologist Dr Trevor Pickersgill and Dr Jane Fenton-May, an associate specialist at the Institute for Medical Genetics, are the only Welsh medics to feature in the BMA's A to Z of Doctors Making a Difference.
The pair, who are both based in Cardiff, have been praised for the work they are doing in improving care for patients with multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy and overcoming skills shortages in Wales.
The report, launched yesterday, features 40 doctors from across the UK who are developing innovative care for patients with a range of problems, from arthritis to sleeping disorders.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said the examples highlighted in the report showed how doctors are "going the extra mile."
He said, "Our doctors and other healthcare professionals go the extra mile. Not just in a crisis, but as part of their everyday work."
And the BMA's chairman James Johnson said, "Doctors are not standing still and accepting the status quo.
"They are continually looking to improve the service they offer to their patients.
"Doctors strive to give patients what they need and will not hesitate to give up some of their own free time if that is what it takes."
Dr Fenton-May is the driving force behind the Welsh Neuromuscular Network, which aims to provide improved care for people with muscular dystrophy and other muscular disorders by improving communication between patients and carers and health professionals through education meetings and support groups.
About 2,000 people in Wales are directly affected by muscular dystrophy and the disease affects another estimated 6,000 carers, family members and people who carry the defective gene which causes the condition.
Dr Fenton-May said, "Muscular dystrophy is a crippling disease that leads to a degeneration of muscles often leaving sufferers wheelchair bound.
"Patients living in rural Wales often get a raw deal as the services they need can be difficult to access or simply not available.
"At the heart of the problem is a shortage of healthcare professionals with the necessary skills combined with the fact that rural practitioners often feel professionally isolated from other doctors.
"We are trying to make essential services, such as genetic counselling and physiotherapy more readily accessible to patients by creating a network of experts and providing information to both patients and doctors."
Dr Pickersgill has been instrumental in setting up a one-stop clinic for MS patients across South-East Wales at the University Hospital of Wales.
The development has helped Cardiff become a leader in the care of MS sufferers. The clinic, which treats 2,000 patients, provides rapid access assessment and treatment from a range of health professionals - including a neurologist, specialist MS nurses and physiotherapists - to those sufferers experiencing relapses.
Dr Pickersgill said, "The clinic has had a dramatic impact on the service we provide for MS sufferers. We offer an open-door approach which means patients with the disease can contact us quickly and directly if they notice any change in their condition.
"Patients who would normally have to wait weeks or months for a fairly urgent appointment can how have specialist team-based review within days.
"Rather than fitting in patients as extras in already overbooked clinics
they can now come to us, normally within five days."
Copyright © 2004, Trinity Mirror Plc