The vital role of multiple sclerosis specialist nurses to patients and the wider NHS has been set out in a report this week.
Called Evidence for MS Specialist Services, the report was published by the MS Trust to coincide with its annual conference in Windsor.
“MS specialist nurses provide an incredible service to over 100,000 people living with MS in the UK”
It draws together findings from the charity’s three-year GEMSS project, which is seeking to provide an evidence-base for the value to patients provided by specialist nurses.
Collecting data from 15 MS teams who provide services for over 15,000 patients, it demonstrates the vital service that MS specialist nurses provide, the value they deliver and highlights the challenges they face in providing care.
The report reveals that patients rely on their specialist nurse for expert knowledge, support and continuing and co-ordinated care.
They are more likely to turn to them than any other health professional – including neurologists and GPs, it said.
The report also reveals that that people with MS are finding it hard to access MS education and symptom management courses because of the pressures on specialist nurses’ time and resources.
One of the most critical challenges MS nurses face is the increased amount of time spent supporting people taking the newer disease modifying treatments, noted the report.
“MS specialist nurses provide an incredible service to over 100,000 people living with MS in the UK,” said Amy Bowen, director of service development at the MS Trust and a nurse herself.
“With new approaches to MS being developed and new treatments becoming available, we believe MS specialists nurses are going to become even more important in ensuring co-ordinated care,” she said.