Since the first MS nurses were appointed back in the 1990s, the MS Trust has been at the forefront of developing the MS nurse workforce. We believe that everyone with MS should have access to a specialist nurse. However, with the NHS currently needing to make big savings, the future of MS nursing in the UK is at risk and so we've had to take a tough look at how best to defend nurse posts against cost-saving measures.
As well as the obvious benefits specialist nurses can bring to people with MS, research has proven that they can actually save the NHS money. By making sure people with MS get the right care at the right time, MS nurses often prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and doctor consultations. But in order to secure funding for specialist posts when budgets are tight, commissioners need hard evidence that this is happening in practice - something many nursing services just don't have.
To tackle this problem head on, the MS Trust is working with four MS nurse teams across the UK to find the best ways to gather the evidence they need. We're arming nurses with tools to collect data as part of their regular routine and the skills to use that data to show how their services are making a difference. Once we have completed this initial stage, our GEMSS project (Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services) will be rolled out to MS nurses across the UK. By understanding how to capture strong evidence of their quality and cost-effectiveness, MS nurses will be in a much better position to secure their services over the long term.
"Specialist nursing roles are very valuable and no one wants to see them go - you just have to make it 'easy' for people to say yes to employing them, based on real data" - Commissioner
In a recent survey of 58 specialist nurses, two thirds believed better data would help them defend against potential threats or cuts. Three quarters of them felt that they would be able to provide a better service if they could properly evaluate what they're doing. 90% of the nurses surveyed were interested in using the tools from our GEMSS project within their own services.
"The GEMSS programme has been an extremely useful tool for evidence, to highlight to others what our role entails. I feel privileged and inspired being part of the project." - MS nurse and GEMSS project participant
We will continue to fight for MS nurses and assist them in defending and developing their own services, but we can only do this with your support. Thank you very much for supporting this vital work.