The MS Trust has announced that for the first time it is to directly fund multiple sclerosis specialist nurse posts, rather than just their training.
The charity will provide initial funding to pump-prime the posts for 15 months, after which the NHS is due to take over.
“The MS Trust is stepping in and funding new MS nurses in areas of greatest need”
The two new posts will be based in Leicester and Bradford, with a further six earmarked to be created over the following 12 months.
The charity highlighted that MS was the most common condition of the central nervous system affecting young adults, with over 100,000 people in the UK with the condition – about one in 600.
With the help of specialist nurses, it said more and more patients were able to get the care and treatments that can help them, and learn to manage the lifelong condition.
But MS Trust research had found that two-thirds of people with MS still lived in an area without enough specialist nurses. So for the first time it said it had “stepped in” to fund new nurses.
Charity chief executive Pam Macfarlane said: “We know that MS nurses are vital for people living with MS. They can help people deal with diagnosis, understand their condition, find treatments that work for them and learn to manage a lifelong disease.
“These nurses have transformed MS care in the last 25 years,” she said. “But too many people are still having to take on MS alone.”
Charity to fund MS specialist nurse posts for first time
“This is why the MS Trust is stepping in and funding new MS nurses in areas of greatest need,” she said. “This MS Awareness Week we are announcing our first new nurses coming to Leicester and Bradford.
“In the next 12 months we hope to fund nurses in a further 6 locations. All together these nurses will help thousands of people affected by MS,” added Ms Macfarlane.
“MS is often not a priority for an NHS coming under increasing stress,” she noted. “The MS Trust receives no funding from government or from the NHS to train and support these vital nurses.”
In total, there are about 240 MS specialist nurses in the UK. Since 2000 the charity has provided the foundation training for every new MS specialist nurse across the country.
The appointment of the first MS Trust-funded nurses will coincide with this year’s MS Awareness Week (24-30 April) which also marks the 25th anniversary of MS specialist nursing in the UK.