HEALTH: Former MP campaigns for specialist nurses

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A FORMER Peterborough MP is now focusing all her efforts to help MS sufferers in Peterborough and across the country.

A FORMER Peterborough MP is now focusing all her efforts to help MS sufferers in Peterborough and across the country.Helen Clark is the head of policy and campaigns for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and is busy visiting branches across the UK to offer advice and muster support.

One of Mrs Clark's first ports of call was the Peterborough branch, where she spoke about the need for specialist nurses.

She is concerned that health trusts are failing to replace specialist roles, and an increasing number of trusts are merging roles, which means less expert advice is available to people who have the condition.

Named "Save Our Specials", Mrs Clark urged Peterborough society members to back her bid to raise awareness about the lack of nurses.

She said: "Hospitals are making stealth cuts in specialist positions all across the country, and the Government seems unaware of the knock-on effect it is having. They are crucial as not only do they help the patient, but they also help GPs by alleviating the workload.

"In my role as head of policy and campaigns I am visiting branches up and down the country to highlight the importance of having specialist care for people who have MS.

"I now want to get as many MPs as possible to sign a motion to get Tony Blair to look further into the problem."

So far, 109 MPs, including Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson and Cambridgeshire North West MP Shailesh Vara have signed the motion.

Mrs Clark is also extremely concerned that there is no national record of people who have the MS condition.

She added: "There is no database, which is shocking. I am campaigning for a register to be set up."

Talking about her visit to the Peterborough branch meeting at the Parkway Social Club last month, Mrs Clark said: "It was an absolute pleasure to meet such an active branch. They do a tremendous amount of fund-raising and are a formidable bunch of people."

To find out more about the work of the MS Society, visit www.mssociety.org.uk

A spokeswoman for the Greater Peterborough Primary Care Partnership confirmed Peterborough District Hospital had recently transferred the role of specialist nurse for strokes to the MS role. It had been vacant for one year.

About MS

MULTIPLE sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults. Around 85,000 people in the UK have MS.

MS is the result of damage to myelin – a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When myelin is damaged, this interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.

For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission, while for others it has a progressive pattern. For everyone, it makes life unpredictable.