NICE guidelines on MS, published in 2003, recommend that neurological rehabilitation services should be available for all patients with the condition, and that anyone suspected of having MS should have a rapid referral to a specialist neurology service to confirm diagnosis.
But an audit of services, published last week by the Royal College of Physicians and the MS Trust, found that only 36% of MS patients had access to neurological rehabilitation services.
The audit also revealed considerable delays from GP referral to diagnosis, with half of all patients waiting over 20 weeks for access to specialist neurology services.
Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘It seems incredible that after five years we are no nearer to commissioning the full range of services that MS patients need and deserve.’
MS Trust chief executive Christine Jones added: ‘If you have MS and you have access to the services you need, you are in a fortunate position. Quality services should not depend on the accident of finding a doctor or a nurse who really understands and responds to your needs.’