A Stewarton woman has spoken of the “phenomenal care” she has received following her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis (MS) - but voiced frustration at the delays she endured after her first appointment.

Dr Claire Kerr was referred to a neurologist by her GP after experiencing symptoms consistent with MS, and had an MRI scan that same month.

She had heard nothing following it and assumed that "no news was good news".

But at Dr Kerr’s follow-up appointment with the neurologist, 11 weeks after the MRI scan, she was told that the scan results had showed a deterioration from a previous scan in 2008 that was indicative of MS - and that a lumbar puncture would be required.

The procedure was carried out, but when Dr Kerr called to ask for the results, she was told the neurologist had reviewed them and would see her at a follow-up appointment in three months’ time.

However, at a routine appointment with her GP a couple of days later, she asked for the results of the lumbar puncture - and her GP confirmed the diagnosis of MS.

Members of Ayrshire and Arran health board heard the GP was very apologetic that the neurologist had not seen Dr Kerr to provide her with a diagnosis, and the patient worried that the neurologist had not planned on sharing the diagnosis until the review appointment -  seven months after her initial meeting.

She said she felt let down by the service.

Her understanding was that referral to an MS nurse should be within two weeks of diagnosis, however, she had to assume she wouldn’t be referred until she was informed of her diagnosis by the neurologist at her next appointment.

Dr Kerr said: “At the start of July, I had my first appointment with the neurologist. At that point I had basically diagnosed myself with MS, as I had been having problems tripping and falling when I was running.

"I realised [it] could be foot drop, which is an MS issue, and I was having balance issues.

“I had an MRI scan which came through quite quickly, Then I heard nothing so I assumed no news was good news.

“A week after the lumbar picture, I asked if they had my results, but they said 'not yet, it could take two weeks'.

"A week after that I asked to get the results back and I was told the doctor couldn’t see me until February.

“At that point, I put a patient story on Care Opinion [an independent non-profit website giving the public the chance to share their experiences of health care services in the UK], and asked when I would see an MS nurse.

"They asked me to contact them; I phoned and they were great.

“They transferred me to the MS consultant based at the Douglas Grant Rehabilitation Centre at Ayrshire Central Hospital, and from the minute I was involved with the MS team, the care just changed automatically.

“I feel that the staff there are just phenomenal at what they did, they listen and get to know you and there is a continuity of care.”

Board chair Lesley Bowie said: “We have acted on the story, and made improvements, and hopefully this means other patients will not have as many delays.”