NHS Lanarkshire has recruited two new multiple sclerosis specialist nurses, plus a part-time neurology nurse, to support the 1,200 patients living with the condition in its region.
The new nurses, who will begin work later this month, were recruited with the assistance of the charity the MS Trust and will double the previous level of specialist provision in the wake of criticism about workload levels.
“I am sure the new nurses will deliver a really high-quality service for people living with MS in Lanarkshire”
As part of its nationwide Specialist Nurse Programme, the MS Trust will be part-funding one of the nurses for 15 months as well as supporting the wider team.
The appointments bring to an end a period of interim support arrangements that were put in place around six months ago, when there was no specialist nurse in the health board’s area.
Local newspapers reported that Lanarkshire’s former MS specialist nurse, Mhairi Coutts, handed in her notice after working with a caseload of 1,200 people – almost four times the recommended limit.
Following the departure of the previous MS nurse last spring, clinical and managerial staff worked with the charity to review the service and ensure minimal impact on patient care and treatment, said the health board in its latest statement.
With support from NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde Neurology Services, they were able to put in place two nurse practitioners to work jointly with NHS Lanarkshire clinicians to support patients and their families, it said.
Service manager Karen Maclure said: “During the recruitment process we were able to ensure continuity of care.
“Since April we have carried out a thorough review of the MS specialist nursing service incorporating feedback the MS Trust helped us get from service users.
“Responding to this feedback, our new service will include increased home visits and telephone support,” she said. “We will also ensure that people with MS and their families have more opportunities to get the information, education and support they need.”
In addition to the two new MS specialist nurses, the part-time neurology specialist nurse will work across the MS and Parkinson’s services.
Scottish health board appoints two new MS specialist nurses
Ms Maclure said: “This post will initially work with the MS team. We are working with the consultants of both services to create a job plan for this role to be responsive to the demands on both services.”
Maria Docherty, nurse director of the health board’s South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We are delighted to welcome the new nurses. Thanks to funding and support from the MS Trust, we were able to appoint two new nurses when previously we had one.
“NHS Lanarkshire will continue to fund the additional nurse on a permanent basis after the first 15 months,” she said. “This will mean we will be able to deliver an improved service for local people affected by MS.”
Megan Roberts, specialist nurse programme manager at the MS Trust, provides support to the multiple sclerosis team in Lanarkshire.
She said: “It was fantastic to have such a positive response to the job adverts. I am sure the new nurses will deliver a really high-quality service for people living with MS in Lanarkshire.”