What is the Specialist Nurse Programme?
We believe that everyone with MS in the UK should have access to MS specialists – MS nurses in particular – regardless of where they live, or the type of MS they have.
As part of our commitment to making this a reality, we are working with NHS organisations to improve access to MS specialist nurses for people with MS and support overall MS service improvement.
We estimate that around 68,000 people with MS in the UK live in areas where there are not enough MS nurses to look after everyone. Our mapping access to MS nursing work, completed as part of our MS Forward View project, highlights where MS nurses are needed most, providing the focus for the Specialist Nurse Programme.
The Specialist Nurse Programme will offer a package of support to participating MS teams which includes:
- 80% of the initial funding for the first 15 months for a permanent MS specialist nurse post (after which time the NHS Trust will take over this cost)
- accredited training through the MS Trust's MS Specialist foundation training
- mentorship for the post-holder from our Specialist Nurse Programme Manager
- support for the whole MS team in improving and developing the service, and collecting data about the service using the tools developed in the MS Trust’s highly regarded GEMSS programme.
The programme began in October 2016 and is currently in its pilot phase (2016-18). We are already working with other prospective sites and will use the findings and feedback from this year’s teams to inform our future work.
How does it work?
The MS Trust will approach teams who have been identified as having greatest need in terms of MS specialist nurse provision in the UK, and work with them to determine whether or not they would benefit from the programme. Teams will then be invited to apply and the programme’s funding panel will make the final decision.
Teams who are facing particular shortages are also encouraged to get in touch themselves, if they feel they could benefit from the Specialist Nurse Programme. If you are experiencing significant staff shortages in your team, or your circumstances have changed since our mapping access to MS nursing exercise in 2016, feel free to get in touch with the programme staff at MSTSNP@mstrust.org.uk to discuss your situation and your potential involvement.
The MS Trust will then work collaboratively with the team and its NHS Trust to recruit an MS nurse and establish a permanent contract for the new member of the team.
For the first 15 months, the MS Trust will fund 80% of the new nurse’s post, with the remaining 20% covered by the NHS Trust (who will take on the full cost after the 15-month period). During this time, the MS Trust will provide training and mentorship, and support the whole team to improve their service and increase their capacity.
Progress of the programme so far
In February 2017, we announced we would be working with the MS team based in Leicester as the first team to be involved in the programme.
Allison Smith, MS nurse, explains how they will benefit:
We’re hoping the new nurses will help us see more people in the community, [and] set up community clinics, which would be invaluable. We have lots of people on the outskirts of the county who can’t come to the central hub in Leicester, they would struggle to get to clinic appointments.
We are also working with NHS Lanarkshire and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to implement the programme in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and the Bradford and West Yorkshire area. We are committed to new MS nurse posts in these areas to alleviate the pressure on current services and ensure that no one with MS in these regions is without an MS nurse.
In September 2016, we launched a campaign to raise funds and awareness about the growing issue of accessibility of MS services in the UK. See how you can help our Specialist Nurse Programme.
If you have any queries about the programme, please contact MSTSNP@mstrust.org.uk