News Date: Monday 5th May 2008
Breakthrough for Sussex Multiple Sclerosis Centre
Alan Taylor, the manager of the Sussex Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre based in Southwick, joined a delegation of MPs to lobby Health Minister Ben Bradshaw about inspection charges for MS Centres. The delegation was organised by Tim and included Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt and Valerie Woods who runs a similar MS Centre in his constituency in Bedford.
The meeting with the Minister follows several years of lobbying by Tim and Alistair working with Alan and other MS centre managers who have objected to the high level of fees now being charged by the Healthcare Commission having taken on responsibility for inspecting health related establishments. Despite a very good safety record and only operating Type 3 hyperbaric oxygen chambers MS centres have been faced with similar inspection fees paid by much larger commercial operations, and are already subject to high levels of quality control for health and safety and insurance measures for example.
It now looks as though the campaign may be rewarded as a new consultation by the Department of Health is recommending that establishments like the MS Treatment Centre should be removed from regulation by the Healthcare Commission and the charges dropped. Speaking after the meeting at the Department of Health in Westminster Tim commented;
'We had a very good meeting with the Minister and it now looks highly likely that these inspection charges will be dropped from October 1st. It always looked to me like a case of regulation for regulation's sake given the good safety record and no problems have been reported. Given that these MS Centres are charities carrying out a fantastic essential service for many hundreds of sufferers throughout Sussex and beyond, without receiving any public funding, every penny raised is important and should no have to go on unnecessary inspections and bureaucracy. The perseverance and Alan and all his colleagues has hopefully paid off and the Government have listened though it is a shame that these unnecessary and costly measures were brought in in the first place.'
Alan Taylor commented:
'This is really great news for us and all the MS Centres around the country. We are the only establishments caught under this legislation that are funded entirely by voluntary donations and the cost to the centres has been a drain on our resources. We are all very grateful to Tim and Alistair for continuing to press our case with a succession of Health Ministers."