Local MSP Margaret Burgess has praised the work of the MS Society, which supports people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Mrs Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South, met last week with the local branch of the Society, and learned there are currently 950 registered MS sufferers in the NHS Ayrshire & Arran area. In addition, Scotland has one of the highest levels of MS in the world: recent research showed 200 per 100,000 of the national population suffered from the illness, while in Ayrshire the figure rose to 240 per 100,000.
Following her meeting with the MS Society, Margaret Burgess said, “The local branch, based in Kilwinning, is very active. It is the largest branch in Scotland and provides a range of support services to people with MS and their families.”
The service is managed and staffed entirely by volunteers and has been in existence for 42 years.
Mrs Burgess said, “Branch members told me that once a person is diagnosed with MS, patients in Ayrshire receive excellent treatment and services.
“However, they also told me that the situation is not the same everywhere in Scotland. We need to ensure the very best treatment is available to all those who have MS, wherever they live.”
The local branch of the MS Society has adopted a ward in the Douglas Grant rehabilitation unit at Ayrshire Central Hospital and supports it by donating furniture, furnishings, televisions and other items to enhance the quality and experience of the people who use the unit. With the help of the staff of Hunterston B power station, they have also been able to provide lifting hoists and a specialised shower that is of great benefit to both staff and patients.
“The Kilwinning resource centre is also a place where people can go and just talk to someone,” said Margaret Burgess, “They can get help with forms, in respect of all the complications that are going to arise because of welfare reform, which is a concern to people with MS. We must recognise that, because of the variability of their condition, it has always been difficult for them when they are trying to get the benefits to which they are entitled.”
Mrs Burgess, a former manager with Citizens Advice Bureau, added, “The branch also has a grants system. It distributes more than £25,000 a year to people in Ayrshire who have MS. The only criteria are that a grant should improve a person’s quality of life or alleviate crisis for individuals or their families.
“Outwith Ayrshire, the branch has donated £37,000 over the past two years to the J.K. Rowling research unit at the University of Edinburgh. As surveys continually stress, research to find a cure is the number-one 1 priority.”
The SNP MSP concluded by paying tribute to the volunteers “in Ayrshire and throughout Scotland who raise the funds and who work in and manage their local MS Society branches, because their efforts and dedication make a real difference to the quality of life of people who are living with MS.”