Sat 15 May 2004
TAVISH Scott, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Shetland, has pledged his full support for the campaign to persuade the local health board to recruit a dedicated multiple sclerosis (MS) nurse for the islands.
The campaign is being led by the Shetland MS Society. It claims that a nurse is desperately needed on Shetland, which has one of the highest incidences of MS in the world.
MS Scotland, with the backing of the local society, first wrote to Shetland Health Board offering financial support for the provision of a nurse, more than three years ago, but the health authority has still to make a decision.
Mr Scott revealed yesterday that he had now written to Betty Fullerton, the chair of the board, calling for action.
He said: "I am happy to give my full backing to the Shetland branch’s request for an MS nurse to be appointed in Shetland. I believe that the Shetland branch of the MS Society has demonstrated the need, and by offering financial help, has put its money where its mouth is.
"While I appreciate that health service budgets are always under pressure, I believe that the Shetland NHS Board should give a high priority to the provision of an MS nurse."
Mr Scott states in his letter to Ms Fullerton: "Given the regrettably high incidence of MS in Shetland, I believe that the appointment of an MS nurse would bring real benefits to the victims of MS and their families."
Mr Scott argues that a dedicated MS nurse could go a long way to allay fears, providing information and advice on how best symptoms can be treated or dealt with, and in offering support to MS sufferers during the period when they are undergoing diagnosis of the disease and as they adjust their life to coping with MS.
Noting that MS Scotland had offered to pay 66 per cent of the total cost of employing a nurse for the first three years, Mr Scott argues that the time had come for the appointment.
He states: "The case the MS Society makes is strong, and is a case backed by the health minister."
Tom Stove, the chairman of the Shetland society, welcomed Mr Scott’s backing. But he expressed his disappointment at the apparent lack of progress in discussions between MS Scotland and the Shetland health authority.
The last time MS Scotland had heard from Shetland Health Board was in June, 2001, "when it responded to say that it was about to embark on a needs assessment".
"MS Scotland is unaware, as yet, of this needs assessment having taken
place," Mr Stove said.
Copyright © 2004, The Scotsman