More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Deacon gets it right on MS

04 November 2001

IT IS a commonplace to remark that the National Health Service is the crown jewel of Britainís public services. It is equally commonplace to remark that it is in a state of terminal decline. Ministers find themselves blamed for being unable to prescribe a quick fix for an organisation that struggles to match the idealism upon which it was founded with the standards of clinical excellence demanded by the public.

Sometimes, however, Ministers get it right. We welcome the fact that Susan Deacon has overruled the recommendation made by the Health Technology Board for Scotland (HTBS) that the drug Beta-interferon should not be made available to those Scots who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.

This newspaper has campaigned for the appalling plight of Scottish MS sufferers to be addressed. Beta-interferon cannot cure the disease but it can, in some cases, slow down the rate at which it takes hold. Scotland is the MS capital of the world and MS sufferers have for far too long been denied the treatment to which they are entitled. That may now change.

Useful though Beta-interferon is, it is only one of a range of measures that require to be implemented if sufferers are to receive the treatment they merit. The Executive should think seriously about funding research into MS while, equally, the country requires more specialist nurses equipped to answer patientsí needs.

Nonetheless, Ms Deaconís decision is both welcome and correct. Much more needs to be done but a start has been made.