Multiple Sclerosis (Access to Specialist Nurses)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 April 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that anyone living with multiple sclerosis has access to a specialist nurse in their national health service board area. (S6O-01017)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I pay tribute to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and other stakeholders during this MS awareness week for the excellent work that they do.

Decisions on staffing requirements are the responsibility of individual NHS boards. They are based on changing population demographics. The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities co-produced and published the national workforce strategy on 11 March this year. The strategy commits to publishing new workforce projections in the autumn once we have the opportunity to consider the three-year workforce plans from health boards and health and social care partnerships. Staffing needs for services and professional specialties across NHS Scotland will be factored into the development of those projections in partnership with stakeholders.

The “Scottish MS Register 2021 Report” notes that,

“despite the challenges presented by COVID-19

87 per cent of newly diagnosed people received

“contact with an MS specialist nurse within 10 working days of diagnosis”.

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I am told that NHS Western Isles has stated that it will not replace its recently vacated MS nurse post with a like-for-like replacement but, instead, will appoint a more general neurological specialist and ask its Parkinson’s disease nurse to assist. There are around 100 people in the Western Isles living with MS and the need for specialist care is critical, so what action will the Scottish Government take to assist NHS Western Isles and other health boards in Scotland to recruit full-time specialist MS nurses?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank Donald Cameron for an important question. I am aware of the situation in the Western Isles. The Scottish Government has been in contact with NHS Western Isles and there are a couple of points that I can advise him of.

Donald Cameron is right that the advanced clinical nurse specialist in neurology, who I understand will be recruited at band 7, will have speciality across neurology services, including MS. I understand that NHS Western Isles will also take the opportunity to increase the hours of the specialist nurse for Parkinson’s. The additional hours for that nurse will also be in general neurology services.

The board of NHS Western Isles has assured me that patients should not experience a negative change in their care as a result of the changes. If Donald Cameron or any member hears about any diminution or reduction in the care or service that those in the Western Isles with MS are receiving, they should bring that to the board’s attention. They can, of course, bring it to my attention, too.