A lack of MS nurses has been a long-standing problem in Lanarkshire, and a long-term, experienced MS specialist nurse dedicated many years to working hard to improve the lives of people with MS in the area. When she left her post to work elsewhere within the field of MS, the MS Trust worked with NHS Lanarkshire to fill the vacancy, as well as funding an additional MS nurse through the charity’s pioneering Specialist Nurse Programme, and supporting the recruitment of a Neurology Specialist Nurse, to provide care to both people with MS and Parkinson’s.
Claire Millar, Claire Purdie and Julie Wilkie started in post in September 2017 and, nine months on, we’re pleased to report that the new nurses are making great progress.
They are all receiving ongoing support and mentorship from the MS Trust Specialist Nurse Programme team, as well as funding to attend the MS Trust’s foundation training course for new-in-post MS specialists and the charity’s annual conference for MS health professionals.
MS specialist nurse Julie Wilkie, commented: “It’s been a steep learning curve, but we’ve come a really long way in a short space of time, and the support we’ve received through the MS Trust, particularly in mentorship from the Health Professional Programme manager Megan Roberts and the residential training course for new-in-post MS specialists, has been brilliant.”
The Lanarkshire MS nurse service is also receiving support from the MS Trust to collect data about the service, to measure the impact of its involvement in the Programme, and most importantly, to ensure that the voices of people with MS in Lanarkshire are being heard.
The nurses are collecting data to show the benefits generated by having the extra nursing support in place. They have also run the MS Trust patient survey, obtaining the views and experiences of over 200 people with MS. This has provided the nurses with clear priorities for service development, so they can continue to make a difference for people with MS in Lanarkshire.
“Running the patient survey was a really important and interesting exercise and helped us to access and receive feedback from a number of patients who unfortunately haven’t seen an MS nurse for a long time. We will improve our service based on the priorities highlighted in the results of the survey. We aim to reach those people that haven’t seen an MS nurse in a while, and we will redo this exercise in future to maintain this focus and see how we’re doing,” commented Claire Millar.
There is still a long way to go, and we know there are many people in Lanarkshire who need access to the care and support offered by an MS specialist nurse, but who haven’t been seen by the service in a long time. The Lanarkshire MS nurses, the NHS Lanarkshire management team and the MS Trust are all working hard to improve this, focused on ensuring that one day, no one is left to manage MS alone.
“The MS Trust Specialist Nurse Programme has helped the Lanarkshire MS nurse service to develop and flourish, and most importantly reach people with MS in Lanarkshire to support them and their families to live well with MS”, said Karen Maclure, Service Manager. “The support we have received is second to none, and the Programme has made, and will continue to make, a huge positive difference to people with MS in the area.”