Hospital introduces new drug for MS
TORBAY Hospital is one of the first in the county to introduce a new drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Fingolimod will be available before the end of a three-month implementation period recommended by the NHS medicines watchdog NICE.
Funding for the drug — the world's first MS pill — is now mandatory across the NHS.
But Torbay is going a few steps further with a revamp of its whole MS service.
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The idea is to make the system run more smoothly from the moment the patient makes an appointment to getting treatment.
It includes creating a one-stop shop for when patients attend their appointments, cutting the number of referrals to other departments, and introducing email communication with patients in place of post.
Dr Jason Ramtahal, consultant neurologist at the hospital, said: "The service is still not up and running in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter or anywhere else in the South West so Torbay is leading the way."
He says making the drug available on the NHS is one thing but removing some of the bureaucratic hurdles to access it quickly is just as important.
He said: "The hiccup has been that the first dose has to be monitored by the heart team.
"Here in Torbay we sat down and thought about how we can help the cardiology team and by working together with them we have made sure that we can deliver it and get the service up and running.
"We have even offered to help other hospitals who haven't yet got up to speed."
MS is the most common neurological condition affecting young adults.
It is estimated that 100,000 people in the UK have MS and it can occur at any age.
Historically people who were given a diagnosis would be told to go and buy a wheelchair because it was such a disabling condition. But treatments have improved enormously in the last 10 years.
It is proven to be twice as effective as standard injections.
It is available to people with relapsing and remitting MS who do not respond to treatment with first-line injections.