Ipswich: MS patients call for hospital to replace their specialist nurse

IPSWICH: Buoyed by action to save a diabetes specialist nurse, multiple sclerosis patients have today called for hospital bosses to replace their treasured nurse as soon as possible.

Last year the Star revealed Ipswich Hospital’s MS specialist nurse Chris Boyes was retiring, leaving the vital position vacant.

Outraged patients contacted the Star and set up their own petition, gathering around 455 signatures, fearing the post would not be filled.

Hospital chiefs insist the post was never taken away and said today they are committed to replacing Mr Boyes.

But concerned patients, encouraged by the trust’s turnaround by saving specialist diabetes nurse Anne Scott, are calling for immediate action.

Neil Bowles’s wife Linda is wheelchair-bound after being diagnosed with MS in 2000.

He said his wife has waited four months since seeing her GP in October to be referred to the neurology department at the Heath Road hospital after her symptoms worsened. In the past Mr Boyes would have stepped in and offered help and advice immediately.

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“Linda’s symptoms can change very quickly, she needs to see someone straight away or she is left in a lot of pain and discomfort,” said Mr Bowles, of Kemsley Road, Felixstowe. “Chris was an expert, he was on hand at all times to help Linda and hundreds of other patients.

“The decision made to save the diabetes nurse is absolutely right, we want to see the same level of action with the MS specialist nurse.”

The hospital spokeswoman said: “We have, as promised, carefully reviewed the post and it has not been withdrawn. A joint business case is being finalised and this is for a specialist MS nurse to work at the hospital and in the community.”

North Ipswich and Central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter, a member of the government’s health select committee, said on a national level the evidence is that investing in preventative measures, such as specialist nurses offering support to patients at home, is better for patient care and hospital finances.

“The medical evidence supports practice of keeping patients suported at home,” he said. “Ipswich Hospital should be investing in exactly these services to help keep patients with longer term illnesses well at home, rather that see them rushed into hospital as a medical emergency. It is very bad management.”

n Have you been affected by job cuts at the hospital? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk