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MS Treatment

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average waiting time is for multiple sclerosis patients in the Western Health and Social Services Board (WHSSB) area to be added to the waiting list to receive disease-modifying therapy (DMT) treatment; what the average waiting time is for MS patients in the WHSSB area who are on the waiting list to begin DMT treatment; and what the target time is in each case. (79969)

Patients with MS who are assessed as eligible to receive treatment with disease modifying therapies are placed on the waiting list following assessment by, and in consultation with, their neurologist. There is no waiting period to be added to the list.

Waiting list information for disease modifying therapies is collected by time band. While these cannot be used to calculate the average length of time waiting, it is possible to identify the median or mid-point waiting time band. The median waiting time band for MS patients in the Western Board area at 30 April 2006 was six to eight months. An additional £2 million has been allocated to Health and Social Services Boards in 2006-07 and 2007-08 which will, by March 2008, allow all those who are currently waiting for disease modifying therapies to start their treatment and ensure that new patients who are eligible for treatment do not face long waits.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many new multiple sclerosis patients in the Western Health and Social Services Board (WHSSB) area have begun receiving disease-modifying therapy in the last three months; how many additional MS patients in the WHSSB area have been placed on the waiting list to receive DMT treatment in the last three months; and if he will make a statement. (79970)

In the three month period from 1 March 2006 to 31 May 2006, two multiple sclerosis patients from the Western Health and Social Services Board area started treatment with disease modifying therapies. Over the same period, two Western Board patients were added to the waiting list.