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GEMSS Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services

A picture of the GEMSS phase II team at their training day The GEMSS phase II training day

What is GEMSS?

Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services (GEMSS) is an MS Trust project launched in 2012 to help MS specialist nurses and MS specialist teams evaluate their services and demonstrate what works best to meet the needs of people with MS and their families.

What are we hoping to achieve?

GEMSS aims to build the skills and capabilities of nurses involved in the project and at the same time help to develop a culture of continuous improvement in the services that are being evaluated. In addition, the project aims to leave a lasting legacy for MS services by developing a set of common quality standards and tools by which they can be measured.

The project is currently configured in two phases. In the first phase, which ended March 2013, four teams of MS specialist nurses were supported to evaluate their services over a year. The evaluation report of the first phase of GEMSS (Word doc, 184 KB) found significant benefits for nurses and their services. In particular:

  • MS Nurses now have access to a common evaluation framework, key performance indicators for their services which are mapped to the NHS outcomes framework
  • The four participating GEMSS teams completed final evaluation reports for their services, and identified recommendations for service improvement.
  • The user experience survey, part of the GEMSS toolkit, has been rolled out nationwide by the MS and endorsed by the UK MS Specialist Nurses Association. Any UK MS nurse team can access the GEMSS user experience survey. The MS Trust can help administer and collate the results. Find out more about our Patient Survey service.

What is happening in phase II?

Following encouraging feedback from the first phase, GEMSS has been expanded. A further 11 teams of MS nurses have been recruited and over the next year they will be collecting evidence about their services. The teams are spread from Devon to the Western Isles in the North of Scotland, and reflect the broad range of different MS specialist teams around the UK: acute Trust and community based, urban and rural, large and small. Find out more about the teams that are taking part. The map below shows where each team is located.

Map showing the location of all the GEMSS phase II teams

What is happening at the end of phase II?

Our aim is to publish a final evaluation of the second phase with recommendations for commissioner of MS services.

How are AHPs involved?

AHP involvement has two components. The first was the publication of a report published in November 2013, Defining the Value of AHPs with Expertise in MS, Supporting Evidence and Recommendations for Commissioners and Practitioners (PDF, 307 KB). The second is the inclusion of multidisciplinary teams in phase II of the GEMSS project.

What else is the MS Trust doing to support MS specialist nurses?

We know that people with other long-term neurological conditions, for example epilepsy or Parkinson's disease, are also concerned about the future of their own specialist nurses.

That's why we've been working with Parkinson's UK, the Epilepsy Society and Epilepsy Action to support specialist nurses under increasing pressure. Together we're developing a new online resource to help specialist nurses in situations where their roles are coming under threat.

Feedback on GEMSS

Quality of care has to be at the top of our agenda. Patient feedback showed they really valued the service and it was important to them to have the specialist nurse available to provide holistic care and support to allow them to manage their own illness as much as they could.

Julie Sorenson, senior manager, Northumbria district and community services

Evidence from the health and social care professional survey shows that the MS nurse service contributes to more effective joint working and coordination of care to support improved patient outcomes.

Miriam Foster, MS Specialist Nurse

Nurses need to have the confidence to lead discussions about the effectiveness and value of their services and how services should develop to exemplify the best care in the future. GEMSS equips MS Nurses with the skills to not only collect data but to communicate the difference they make and to demonstrate the outcomes they deliver. GEMSS is an inspiring model for how nurses can develop their ability to influence managers and commissioners and be leaders in service development.

David Foster, Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery Advisor, Department of Health

The GEMSS project provides MS specialist nurses with the skills to evaluate and articulate the benefits they bring and to demonstrate how they deliver improved outcomes for people with MS. We welcome the expansion of the project and wish every success to the phase II sites and the wider programme.

Amanda Cheesley, Royal College of Nursing Long Term Conditions Adviser