16th March, 2001
The Courier News
A FIFE woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis was left reeling after health chiefs told her she would have to wait almost two years to find out if she could get the drug beta-interferon.
Carol Heggie, from Hill-end, had been to see her GP to ask about the drug, which can dramatically improve the quality of life for some MS patients, and was referred to a specialist.
However, she was shocked when a letter arrived on Monday from the health authority offering her an appointment to see the specialist on December 17 of next year.
Carol said yesterday, "I was so astonished I thought, ĎThis canít be rightí and had to keep checking it to see if Iíd made a mistake or misread the date.
"I phoned the hospital to see if the date was correct and the woman there said, ĎI know what you are going to say, but itís not a mistake.í
"She said I had three options-wait for the appointment itself, phone up every now and again to see if there were any cancellations, or be put down as an emergency, which itís not really.
"I told her to forget it...but then she found the cancellation and I settled for that."
Carol, whose condition affects her memory, said she was worried she might forget the appointment because it was so far off, but has now been pencilled in for an appointment next January.
"It was my sister who saw something on the television about the drug and said I should see the doctor about getting some more information about it," she added.
"My GP didnít know too much about it and he was the one who referred me to the specialist.
"I donít know if I would be suitable for the drug, but if I am it could help make my symptoms better."
A spokeswoman for Fife Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said yesterday, "Obviously the waiting times are longer than anyone would want.
"We currently have just two consultants who provide a day each in Fife.
"A bid has been submitted to the health board for extra funding to recruit
a full-time consultant, because it is acknowledged this is becoming an
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