How Wales Lags Behind England in Health Care; Muscle Disease and MS Are Two Areas of Inequality, Says Peter Black

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 11, 2009 | Go to article overview

How Wales Lags Behind England in Health Care; Muscle Disease and MS Are Two Areas of Inequality, Says Peter Black


Byline: Peter Black

AS A politician I regularly meet with organisations representing people living with various health problems.

Many conditions have their own representatives, and lobbying bodies, each one effectively representing their respective patient group.

Two of the many groups I have recently met are the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is currently highlighting the lack of specialist neuromuscular services for vulnerable families living with muscle disease in Wales.In 1995 there were four doctors employed in Wales as specialists. By 2008 this had fallen to three.Half of the clinics held in 1995 had stopped by 2008, with Bangor, Wrexham and Llanelli losing their services, leaving clinics only in Cardiff, Swansea and Oswestry.

These issues are put into stark contrast when Wales is compared to north-east England. Many of the social problems that exist in Wales are replicated there.

But in terms of neuromuscular services, there is little similarity.

The north-east has three neuromuscular consultants, an associated specialist, two specialist nurses and a senior physiotherapist.

Although Wales is served by some neuromuscular specialists, there is a distinct lack of a joined-up service compared to the north-east of England.Across the whole of Wales, neuromuscular services receive about a quarter of one consultant's time and a quarter of one associated specialist's time.

Muscular dystrophy care advisers provide families with essential care, support and advice - in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not in Wales.

Such key workers can actually save money in the long term by saving consultant time and reducing unnecessary hospital admissions. …

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