MND campaigner in plea for more home care

Calum Ferguson, pictured on Iona, hopes his treatment for Motor Neurone Disease can be a model for others.
Calum Ferguson, pictured on Iona, hopes his treatment for Motor Neurone Disease can be a model for others.
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A prominent campaigner with Motor Neurone Disease is backing a leading charity’s campaign calling for the Scottish Government to make improvements in neurological care.

Calum Ferguson who was diagnosed with the illness in 2010 aged 46, told Scotland on Sunday that MND patients are bed-blocking due to a lack of care packages and would receive better treatment at home which would also save money.

Ferguson, who lives in Dunblane, reckons it’s five times cheaper for him to receive care at home than it would be if he were kept in an intensive care ward in hospital.

He said: “The crazy thing is if I was still in hospital I’d need to be kept in intensive care because I use a ventilator. It costs the NHS around £750k a year to keep someone like me in intensive care, compared with about £150k per year for a home care package where I’ve got my own ventilator.

“There are people with MND bed-blocking across Scotland as we speak. These are beds that are in very short supply at this time of year. But care packages are just half the battle. You also need to have good equipment, good physiotherapy and a good ventilation service.”

The father-of-three was diagnosed in March 2012 and was not expected to live to see Christmas that year.

He said: “If things had run their normal course I would have passed away but luckily I was provided with a ventilator which doubles your life expectancy to nearly 29 months.

“I was also given a care package, so a combination of that, a ventilator and a good physiotherapy regime has kept my alive – I’m unique in Scotland.

“I use the ventilator all the time and I can’t come off it. I could never be without it.”

He added: “Everybody is on side in recognising this is a much-needed initiative.

“A combination of Sue Ryder and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will play a role and by next year we’re looking for a proper plan of action in how to improve neurological care across the whole of the country.”

Pamela Mackenzie, director of neurological care in Scotland at Sue Ryder, said that the integration of health and social care across the country had “done little” to improve services for people with neurological conditions but welcomed Scottish Government plans to provide more support.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “We have listened closely to the calls of Sue Ryder and campaigners like Calum and welcome their valuable contribution in the debate on how to transform care for people living with neurological conditions.

“Furthermore, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport will be visiting the Sue Ryder centre in Aberdeen in January.

“We have started the development of Scotland’s first National Action Plan on Neurological Conditions to drive improvements for patients.

“We are working with the Neurological Alliance of Scotland to develop a National Action Plan and will publish more details in the coming months.”