MS sufferer hits out at waiting times

Lynne Armstrong
Lynne Armstrong

A Lisburn woman who has MS believes the government are letting down too many sufferers in Northern Ireland.

Lynne Armstrong (68), who was diagnosed with MS nearly 50 years ago, claims that more should be done to tackle the growing waiting lists. There are currently 4000 people living with MS in NI.

The MS Society claims there was a dramatic rise in waiting times at South Eastern Health Trust and in the numbers of people who have waited past the agreed targets for their first appointment. They also claim waiting times for an appointment with a neurologist in (SEHSCT) has risen dramatically in less than a year.

The charity believe that in December 2015, two out of three people (67%) had been waiting for an appointment over the 18 week target for waiting times - a rise of 17% in just nine months.

The MS Society is calling for a shake-up of neurological services to improve the current waiting times for appointments.

Lynne said: “Living with MS is difficult enough but to feel let down and abandoned by the NHS compounds this. MS always seems to be well down the list of health service priorities.

“It is time to tackle waiting lists in NI so that everyone with MS can get an appointment with an MS specialist when they need one.”

Patricia Gordon, Director of the MS Society NI said: “People with MS are waiting far too long for a review, a diagnosis and treatment.”

A spokesperson for the SEHSCT said, “The SEHSCT has been working with the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency to secure funding to allow us to improve the waiting times for all patients with neurological conditions, including those with MS.

“The Board are in the process of recruiting two MS nurses and a Consultant Neurologist. While it will take months for the recruitment process to complete and staff to take up post, this will allow us to increase the number of dedicated MS clinics each month.

“The investment will also allow us to reduce the waiting times for all patients with neurological conditions.

“The Trust is now able to deliver specialist MS drug therapy in the Ulster and Lagan Valley Hospitals.”