23 Jun 2008
Research published by the MS Society has revealed that one in three GPs is unsure how to spot the signs of multiple sclerosis (MS).
The report undertaken by Brand Health International questioned GPs across Britain and highlights a lack of confidence in identifying potential MS patients by their symptoms.
The research reinforces concerns the charity has over the disparate experiences of those who have symptoms but struggle to get a diagnosis.
Jayne Spink, Director of Policy and Research at the MS Society said: "Some people can wait years for a diagnosis of MS, while at the same time experiencing debilitating symptoms that could be eased with early treatment.
"GPs need to be confident in spotting the signs of MS and quickly refer patients to a neurologist - even better, an MS specialist neurologist."
The study also showed the critical role an MS specialist nurse plays in the 'patient journey', and highlighted a need for standardised care.
For the study, 100 GPs were questioned on their awareness and understanding of and attitude toward MS, which is the most common disabling neurological condition among young people.
As well as reporting a lack of confidence, more than three quarters of those questioned said that long waiting times between referral from GP to neurologist for diagnosis was a 'key difficulty'.
Although MS is a life-long condition and there is no cure, evidence suggests that some drugs may have greater benefit if given soon after diagnosis.
Jayne added: "This report shows the problems faced by people newly diagnosed with MS, not just in the lack of confidence of their GP, but also with delayed referrals, and access to the right drugs at the right time.
"This research proves that awareness of MS and its associated symptoms among GPs is poor and this needs to change to give people diagnosed with MS the best possible care and support."
Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/112392.php