Our Specialist Nurse Programme funds specialists in areas with the poorest MS nurse provision.
The MS Trust believes it is essential to improve access to specialist services for people with all forms of MS and that working collaboratively with the NHS and MS health professionals is the key to achieving this goal.
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.
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. Please 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
We have now funded and supported MS specialist nurses across 6 NHS Trusts with a 7th new nurse due to start in post in spring 2019.
The pilot for the MS Specialist Nurse Programme began in 2016, with our first funded nurse in post at University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicester, by the following summer. The programme enables the MS Trust to provide each NHS site with 15 months’ funding towards the cost of a new nurse, along with a support package of training, mentorship and robust evaluation to demonstrate the benefits and value added by taking part.
Over the course of the 15 months, with these additional resources, the team at Leicester were able to develop their service with initiatives which have already established quality improvements and improved patient outcomes. Achievements at Leicester include:
- Creation of new community and hospital based clinics and an improved phone service which has enabled the team to reach more people with MS.
- An increase in teaching and education activities offered to people with MS and health professionals working with them.
- Enhanced working with the wider multi-disciplinary team which has resulted in quicker and more holistic treatment of people with complex needs.
The programme’s legacy will continue at Leicester beyond the funding period with the team working on plans to continue evolving the service further.
Our other pilot sites at Bradford and Lanarkshire have also undertaken service developments and improvements and are due to complete the programme in spring 2019. We have also started a rolling programme which has enabled other sites to participate at Lothian, South Tees, Hull and North Lincolnshire and Goole, with Coventry to follow later in spring 2019. We will continue with the programme, funding MS Specialist nurses in the areas most needed, throughout 2019; as part of our aim to ensure that no one has to manage MS alone.
Interested in getting involved? Find out how you can support the Specialist Nurse Programme.
No one has to manage MS alone
We want to change the lives of thousands of people with MS by bringing new MS specialist nurses to the areas that need them most.
MS Forward View
MS Forward View identified priority actions across MS services for the delivery of efficient, effective and equitable care for everyone with MS.