A new report from the MS Trust has found that 64 per cent of people living with MS in the UK – around 68,000 people – live in an area there aren’t enough MS nurses to provide vital care and support.
Without this specialist care, people with MS can feel left to manage an unpredictable and sometimes devastating disease by themselves. This is why the MS Trust is launching a campaign to fund new nurses and to make sure no one has to manage MS alone.
The MS Trust study found that there are worrying variations in support across the UK. Almost 1 in 4 people with MS live in areas where the nurses have to care for twice the recommended numbers. Not having the right care and support when they need it can have serious consequences for the health of people with MS.
Liz Watson a MS Specialist Nurse covering the Bradford district said: “There are approximately 800 people with MS that I see from Bradford, so my active caseload at any time is around about a quarter of that, 200 patients at a time. The work done by the MS Trust has identified that as a specialist nurse a manageable caseload is 358 patients – I have more than double that number of patients in my caseload.
This results in patients getting a watered down service due to me splitting my time equitably amongst all of those patients. It sometimes means that response time to phone calls is longer than it should be and the waits at clinics should be shorter.”
MS Trust research has shown that MS nurses are absolutely crucial for the health and wellbeing of people with MS. They often work with people from the moment of diagnosis, throughout their lives with MS, providing expert information and support in making choices, particular about MS drugs.
With obvious strain on the NHS, MS specialist services are often not a priority. So the MS Trust is addressing this problem by launching its #No1alone campaign to fund new specialist nurses. They have mapped services across the UK and highlighted the areas in greatest need. Now they are going to fund, train and support new MS nurses to make a difference for thousands of people living with MS today.
People living with MS across the UK are facing difficulties when it comes to accessing a specialist MS nurse. The areas in greatest need of MS nurses include:
• North-West England
• Southern Scotland
• North Wales
• West Yorkshire
Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development at the MS Trust said: ““At the MS Trust we believe that MS nurses play a vital role in helping people deal with the shock of diagnosis and can help them adjust to, and manage, a full life with MS.
“The dangerous lack of specialist nurses can have grave consequences for people with MS. They may have to rely on nonspecialist support for what is a highly complex disease. And they may have to resort to using A&E services if their symptoms become worse.”
Today the MS Trust launches its #No1alone campaign to bring more MS nurses to the areas of greatest need. In 2017 they will fund three new MS nurses to provide life changing support for thousands of people living MS. In the coming years, they plan to fund even more MS nurses to make sure that everybody living with MS can access the best possible care, and no one has to manage MS alone.