A charity and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust have announced a ground-breaking partnership that should see two new specialist nurse posts dedicated locally to multiple sclerosis patients.
The two organisations said they were working on the recruitment of the first new nurse placements to be provider under the MS Trust’s national specialist nurse funding programme.
“We have really big plans to support people with MS throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland”
The programme will see the MS Trust help to recruit and fund two new MS specialist nurses to be based at Leicester General Hospital.
The MS Trust will work with the existing Leicester MS team to help make the most effective use of the new posts and demonstrate the difference they made to patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
After 15 months, the hospital trust will take over funding for the posts, but the charity said it would continue to support the nurses’ training and development, as it does for all MS nurses in the UK.
The MS Trust noted that specialist nurses were vital for people living with the long-term condition, as they could help them adjust to diagnosis, consider complicated treatment options, manage a wide range of symptoms and learn to live well with the condition.
Without MS nurses, patients may have to manage difficult symptoms alone and have to rely on expensive emergency care when their symptoms get worse, said the charity.
The MS Trust said its regular research into national nursing levels had found around two-thirds of the 108,000 MS patients in the UK lived in areas where there were not enough MS nurses.
The research highlighted Leicester as one of the area’s most urgently in need of support, it noted.
The acute trust said there were currently around 1,600 people known to have MS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who would benefit from access to the additional support and expertise provided by the nurse service.
“This is the first time it has taken the step of helping develop and fund new posts itself”
Allison Smith, one of the hospital trusts’ existing MS specialist nurses, said: “We were so pleased to be the recipients of the MS Trust funding as it has allowed us to start the recruitment process which is really exciting.
“We have really big plans to support people with MS throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland by having more community clinics and allowing more access to MS specialists,” she said.
“We have already developed an induction plan for the new recruits and can’t wait for them to start,” she added.
Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the charity, said: “The MS Trust has long campaigned about the need for more MS nurses, but this is the first time it has taken the step of helping develop and fund new posts itself.
“Everyone is incredibly excited about the prospect of new MS nurses in Leicester, the first posts our charity has helped fund,” she said.
“We hope these nurses will make a huge difference to the hundreds of local people living with MS,” she added.