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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-03702
Asked by: Martin Whitfield, South Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 12 October 2021


To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to address the reported backlog with the provision of (a) MS and (b) other neurology services.

Current status: Answered by Maree Todd on 29 October 2021


The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all people living in Scotland with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are able to access the best possible care and support, and benefit from healthcare services that are safe, effective and person-centred.

The NHS Recovery Plan, launched in August, sets out the Scottish Governments key headline ambitions and actions to be developed and delivered now and over the next 5 years, backed by more than £1 billion of investment. Scottish Health Boards are in the process of implementing their remobilisation plans for 2021-22, with an initial additional £80 million dedicated to supporting waiting times already provided this year.

We will publish a National Workforce Strategy by the end of the year, to further support the remobilisation and recovery of health and social care services and set out priorities for recruitment, training and retention. We anticipate that the Strategy will be used by workforce, service and financial planners from across Health and Social Care at all levels.

We are aware that the pandemic has impacted on waiting lists for neurology clinics and are currently implementing programmes to mitigate this situation. The Centre for Sustainable Delivery (CfSD) is working closely with Neurology services to support the adoption of Active Clinical Referral Triage (ACRT) and Discharge Patient Initiated Review (PIR) approaches within Neurology. Both ACRT and Discharge PIR support better access for patients based on clinical need and can be applied in various neurological conditions, including MS.

The recent Scottish MS Register report noted that despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 during 2020-21, 87% of newly diagnosed people received contact with an MS specialist nurse within 10 working days of diagnosis and over 99% of people were contacted within 10 working days of an MS nurse receiving the referral.

We have invested £1.4m over the past year, through our Neurological Care and Support Framework, into innovative projects which improve the care and support of people with neurological conditions. This includes over £300,000 on projects which improve the health and wellbeing of people with MS in Scotland, including better integrated care and supported self-management.