Since Beta Interferon was made available to NHS Greater Glasgow patients via the Risk Sharing Scheme in 2002, the number of patients receiving this treatment has increased from nine to 71.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Board will keep the position under review as it embarks on a review of its overall financial plan which is being taken forward in the coming months.
The Board has committed new resources of £600,000 to the Beta Interferon Programme in the previous financial year (2002 ). This level of funding is being maintained in this financial year but the Board is not able to make a further increase in its support for this programme at this stage.
Dr. John Womersley, Consultant in Public Health Medicine said "We have been conscious of our responsibility to improve care and support for all patients with MS. I believe that the whole package of measures developed in recent years provides an appropriate response to the needs of all patients with MS."
This allocation of additional resources was made on the basis of continuing discussions with a wide variety of professionals specialising in the treatmentmanagement of people with MS, taking into account a survey of a representative sample of some 185 patients with the condition
The Board has increased its funding support also to the MS Therapy Centre both to support the work of the existing Centre in Maryhill and to support the opening of a new facility in Cathcart. The Board now provides over £160,000 per annum to support the work of this Centre.
In addition the resources within Community Physical Disability Teams, around one-third of whose workload is with people with MS, have been increased significantly. Additional Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists have been appointed with some further expansion also of Clinical Psychologist support.
The Board has a responsibility to improve services for the entire population of people with MS. Thus, during the past five years there has been a substantial range of service improvements funded to improve the care of people with MS. Within the Department of Neurology at the Institute of Neurosciences two new full-time Nurse Specialists in MS and 2 new full-time Physiotherapists have been appointed. Additional Consultant sessions have been funded together with increased secretarial support.
Currently, around 1400 Greater Glasgow residents have been diagnosed as having MS across all stages of the condition. Only about one in six of this population (about 240 people) is eligible for disease modifying treatment – largely beta interferon. Of this group, only around one in six will achieve significant benefit from the treatment.
It is important that the NHS Board's decision to maintain the funding of the Beta Interferon Programme at the significantly increased level achieved last year, but not to increase that figure in the way originally planned, is seen in the overall context of the expanded range of services which the Board has funded for all MS sufferers in recent years.