Over the past few months, the MS Trust has been approached by a number of MS specialist nurses whose services are under threat.
The threats include downgrading of their posts, cuts to the number of nurses in the team and withdrawing funding for the service. In the drive to cut costs, the competence and experience of specialist nurses and the difference they make to people with MS needs to be proved to NHS managers and commissioners of services.
Whilst we acknowledge the need to find savings in the NHS, we are concerned about the impact of these threats to people with MS. Amy Bowen, Director of Service Development at the MS Trust, says:
“MS is a complex condition which requires the input of specialist nurses who understand the breadth of symptoms, treatments and interventions required. MS specialist nurses are uniquely skilled to provide information, support decisions between complex treatment options, help manage symptoms and support people with MS to be in control of their condition. Reducing access to MS specialist nurses is a false economy which will result in the NHS losing the vital knowledge and experience we have all worked so hard to build.”
Recently, the MS nurse team based in one of the larger MS centres in the UK faced downgrading of their posts. The MS Trust worked with the team, using the tools and skills we have developed through our GEMSS (Generating Evidence in MS Services) programme, to help them make the case for their service.
We are delighted to hear that the MS nurses' challenge was successful and the threat was withdrawn. This means that their posts are secure and people with MS will continue to receive the specialist service they need. One of the MS nurses from this team says,
“The support and impact of the MS Trust can never be exaggerated. My recent encounter with the MS Trust made me realise their significant role for MS specialist nurses: advocating, providing genuine support to secure their posts and fighting to secure services for people with MS. My MS team are forever grateful to them.”
We are currently working with a number other teams who have been in touch. This work is only possible thanks to our generous supporters. We will update you again soon.