Project launched: Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services (GEMSS)
Geraldine Mynors, Independent Healthcare Consultant and Analyst, Mynors Suppiah, UK
Way Ahead 2012;16(3):5
In April 2012, the MS Trust launched the GEMSS project that will support MS specialist nurse teams to evaluate their services over the course of a year. Geraldine Mynors and Jane Suppiah (www.mynors-suppiah.com) have been commissioned to deliver the project and support the nurse teams involved.
Four MS nurse teams, comprising 13 MS specialist nurses, have been selected to take part. They are based in Northumbria Healthcare, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Dudley Group of Hospitals and Dorset (Poole Hospital and Dorset Disability Action). These teams were selected from 27 who expressed an interest, through an open selection process, to reflect the broad range of different MS nurse teams around the UK: acute Trust and community based, urban and rural, large and small.
Why is GEMSS needed?
In 2010, the MS Trust commissioned a scoping study toassess the evidence for the value of MS specialist nurses. The output of the project was a report, Defining the value of MS specialist nurses1, which found that MS nurses are short on robust evidence to show that their services are cost-effective. There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that they are highly valued, not only by people with MS, but also neurologists, GPs and other members of the healthcare team. However, no rigorous studies have been carried out to demonstrate their worth since the earlier work commissioned by the MS Trust from Jane Johnson at Southbank University in 20012.
Managers and commissioners of services are increasingly looking for information that articulates the complexity of the role of the MS specialist nurse and shows how this translates into value for people with MS and the wider health service. However, not all MS specialist nurses have the skills and experience required to gather, analyse and communicate data about their service. GEMSS is a response to these issues. The project will have a professional development component, building the skills and capabilities of the nurses involved, and a service evaluation component, measuring the impact of services to generate improvement. In addition, it aims to leave a lasting legacy for MS specialist nurse services more generally by developing a set of common quality indicators and tools by which they can be measured. These indicators will draw on the published evidence on best practices in MS care, including the NICE MS Clinical Guideline3, the National Service Framework for long-term conditions4 (acknowledging that both of these documents are to some extent outdated) and the MS commissioning pathway. These outputs will also be helpful to the MS Trust as they contribute to the forthcoming review of the NICE MS Clinical Guideline.
Amongst the tools which the project will develop will be a new patient experience survey for people with MS, building on the excellent work by the UKMSSNA (United Kingdom Multiple Sclerosis Specialist Nurse Association) with the CriMSon audit tool.
"We are delighted that so many nurse teams expressed an interest in being a part of GEMSS. We are looking forward to working closely with the four teams taking part to take forward this important work."
- Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development, MS Trust
"At a time when all NHS spending is in the spot light, it is vital that the value of specialist nurses is clearly articulated, so that these roles which are so important to improving the lives of people living with long-term conditions can be supported and built upon. We welcome the launch of this innovative project by the MS Trust."
- Amanda Cheesley, Long-Term Conditions Advisor, RCN
Further information about the GEMSS project is available from the MS Trust website
- Mynors G, Perman S, Morse M. Defining the value of MS specialist nurses. Letchworth: MS Trust; 2012.
- Johnson J, Smith P, Goldstone L. Evaluation of MS specialist nurses. A review and development of the role. London and Letchworth: Southbank University and MS Trust; 2001. www.mstrust.org.uk/nurse-evaluation
- National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Multiple Sclerosis - management of multiple sclerosis in primary and secondary care. NICE Clinical Guideline 8. London: NICE; 2003.
- Department of Health. The National Service Framework for long-term conditions. London: DH; 2005.
Defining the value of the MS specialist nurses can be download or read online at www.mstrust.org.uk/value-of-nurses