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GPs urged to spot hidden MS problems

GPs will be expected to play a key role in spotting 'hidden problems' associated with multiple sclerosis, such as depression and impotence, under guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

But a national shortage of neurologists could leave health professionals struggling to meet other targets in the guidelines published last week.

The document highlights six key aims, including that MS patients should have access to neurology and rehabilitation services and that patients with suspected MS should see a neurologist within six weeks. Investigations should be completed within an additional six weeks.

MS qualifies as a national enhanced service under the new GMS contract.

Dr John Keen, a GP in London and an author on the guidelines group, said: 'What GPs have to do to qualify for this service ties in well with the NICE recommendation'.

Requirements include establishing a register of MS patients, a strategy for patient reviews, and training staff.

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