Funding for an extra MND nurse in Fife

The NHS Fife funding comes on the first anniversary of the death of Kirkcaldy MND campaigner Gordon Aikman. Pic: Jane Barlow.
The NHS Fife funding comes on the first anniversary of the death of Kirkcaldy MND campaigner Gordon Aikman. Pic: Jane Barlow.

NHS Fife has committed to funding an additional Motor Neurone Disease (MND) nurse to ensure that patients get equal access to MND nurses.

The move follows discussions with the Scottish Government and comes on the first anniversary of the death of Kirkcaldy MND campaigner Gordon Aikman.

Charity MND Scotland made the call after discovering the patient to nurse ratio for the Fife and Forth Valley area is almost double that of anywhere else in Scotland.

Aikman, who died on February 2 last year, successfully convinced the First Minister to double the number of MND nurses in Scotland in 2015 and fund them from the public purse.

The impact of his “Gordon’s Fightback” campaign meant that in 2017 newly diagnosed patients waited just two days on average before seeing their MND nurse, compared to 15 days on average before 2015.

Although this is a huge achievement, the stats also showed improvement is still needed in Fife.

MND Scotland has called for the Scottish Government to mark Gordon’s anniversary by securing an extra nursing post in the Kingdom, to ensure that every patient across Scotland has the same quick access to their MND nurse. There is currently only one nurse covering both Fife and Forth Valley.

Following discussions between the Health Secretary Shona Robison and NHS Fife, the new commitment will see an MND nurse in each area.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Gordon Aikman was deeply committed to advancing the cause of people living with MND – and his efforts have touched the lives of every family in Scotland who are dealing with MND.

“MND Scotland highlighted that while access to services had been transformed, there was more that could be done in Fife. We’ve spoken with NHS Fife and I’m delighted that the board have committed to secure and fund additional MND Specialist Nursing capacity very soon.

“That will mean that patients in Gordon’s own home area – along with countless more right across Scotland – will benefit from the momentum he created and the good work that followed, receiving the excellent care they deserve.”

Lawrence Cowan, chairman of MND Scotland, was a close friend of Gordon Aikman’s and helped coordinate the Gordon’s Fightback campaign. He said: “We are seeing a real ‘Aikman effect’ on MND care in Scotland. Before Gordon’s campaign, people newly diagnosed with MND had to wait on average two weeks to see their nurse and in 2017 this was just two days on average. That’s amazing progress. With this extra nurse in Fife we can make sure that everyone gets quick access to their MND nurse across Scotland.”

Joe Pike, Gordon Aikman’s husband, said: “Even a year after Gordon’s death the impact of his relentless campaigning is still being felt, and improving lives across Scotland. His abiding aim was to make life better for those that follow, and he has certainly done that. We are so proud of him.”