The Scotsman - United Kingdom; Nov 14, 2000
JAN Warhurst is one of the many patients forced to wait almost a year to see a neurologist.
For her, it comes as no surprise that Scotland's consultant neurologists are under so much pressure that their job is becoming impossible.
Even after her appointment, she had to wait for several months again until she was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Ms Warhurst, 44, who lives in Maryhill, Glasgow, had to battle with doctors for a referral after suspecting she had the disease, which attacks the nervous system.
In 1991, just after the birth of her son, Ms Warhurst began showing symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Suspecting she had MS, she went to several different doctors before she was referred to a neurologist.
In 1992, after a year long agonising wait, the now retired school teacher was finally given a conclusive diagnosis.
"When I started showing symptoms of MS and I went to my doctor straight away. I started to notice little things, like my balance was a bit off and I couldn't walk very far.
"I told my doctor I thought it was multiple sclerosis but he said that I was imagining it. He said MS was very rare and that hardly anyone ever walked through his door with that.
"In the end I changed doctors and this one referred me to a neurologist straight away. However, it took months to actually be seen by the neurologist and then months again until I was actually diagnosed.
"I just couldn't understand why my diagnosis wasn't quicker. It took so long. Eventually I had an MRI scan, but even that took ages to give me an answer - it was weeks and weeks before I got the results and was eventually told I had MS.
"I was very upset indeed. I kept wondering what was wrong with me and lots of things kept going through my mind. You question yourself and it makes you very anxious.
"I was really scared and I just thought that by this time they must have the resources to tell me what was wrong with me. It's unfair to leave people without a diagnosis - you worry about it so much.
"I also had to wait a long time to see neurologists after my diagnosis. Unless anything specific happens you don't get any follow-up. I was told if I had any problems to get in touch with my GP and then wait to be referred again.
"I had an MS attack and did exactly that - and my GP referred me straight away but I had to wait 12 weeks before I could see a hospital neurologist and get treatment. In that time I couldn't walk, and was completely laid up.
"At that point I hadn't even been using a walking stick and could walk normally so it had a big impact on me. I felt so frustrated because there was nothing I could do but wait until they could see me, even though it was well established by then that I had multiple sclerosis. I was very angry indeed - there are just not enough neurologists.
"Although I was offered a home help, they only get the shopping, they don't help with housework which is what I had real trouble with. As you can imagine, it disrupted my life greatly for 12 weeks.
" It's so frustrating when you are just left to get on with it with hardly any help. I would say to anyone who thinks they might have it to really push for a referral to the neurologist. "
Doug Harrison, the policy officer with the MS Society in Scotland, welcomed the consultants' comments.
He said: "We agree there is a lack of priority given to neurological
services and hope our efforts on behalf of MS will have a knock on effect
for treatment in other conditions."