Specialist Nurse Programme

Our Specialist Nurse Programme funds specialists in areas of greatest need. 

The MS Trust believes it is essential to improve access to specialist services for people with all forms of MS and that working collaboratively with the NHS and MS health professionals is the key to achieving this goal.

What is the Specialist Nurse Programme?

We believe that everyone with MS in the UK should have access to MS specialists – MS nurses in particular – regardless of where they live, or the type of MS they have.

As part of our commitment to making this a reality, we are working with NHS organisations around the UK to improve access to MS specialist nurses for people with MS and support overall MS service improvement.

We estimate that 8 in 10 people with MS live in areas where there are not enough MS nurses to provide safe, high-quality care. Our mapping access to MS nursing work, which builds on our MS Forward View project, highlights where MS nurses are needed most, providing the focus for the Specialist Nurse Programme.

The Specialist Nurse Programme offers a package of support to participating MS teams which includes:

  • 80% of the initial funding for the first 15 months for a permanent MS specialist nurse post (after which time the NHS Trust will take over this cost) 
  • accredited training through the MS Trust's MS Specialist foundation training
  • mentorship for the post-holder from our Specialist Nurse Programme Manager and / or an experienced MS nurse
  • support for the whole MS team in improving and developing the service, and collecting data about the service using the tools based on those developed in the MS Trust’s highly regarded GEMSS programme.

How does it work?

The MS Trust is approaching teams who have been identified as having of the lowest numbers of MS specialist nurses relative to the estimated number of people with MS locally. The Health Professionals Programme team then works with the local MS team, business manager, and local commissioning groups to determine whether or not they would benefit from the programme. The MS Trust will work with each team to help them build their business case and gain approval for this, before submitting to the programme’s funding panel to approve funding.

The MS Trust also encourages teams who are facing particular shortages or who have identified a local, unmet need which can be addressed by increasing the capacity of the MS nurse team to get in touch. Please feel free to contact the programme staff to discuss your situation and your potential involvement – the Health Professionals Programme Team would love to hear from you!

The MS Trust will then work collaboratively with the team and the NHS Trust to recruit an MS nurse and establish a permanent contract for the new member of the team.

Our progress so far

We have already funded and supported MS specialist nurses across seven NHS Trusts, who in turn have provided care and support to 3,612 people with MS.

The programme enables the MS Trust to provide each NHS site with 15 months’ funding towards the cost of a new nurse, along with a support package of training, mentorship and robust evaluation to demonstrate the benefits and value added by increasing the number of MS nurses in the team. 

Over the course of the 15 months, with these additional resources, the three pilot sites have been able to develop their services with initiatives which have already established quality improvements and improved patient outcomes. 

Achievements across the three teams include:

  • Creation of new community and hospital based clinics and an improved phone service which has enabled the MS nurses to reach more people with MS.
  • An increase in teaching and education activities offered to people with MS and health professionals working with them.
  • Enhanced working with the wider multi-disciplinary team which has resulted in quicker and more holistic treatment of people with complex needs.
  • Over 600 people with MS offered appointments with an MS nurse who had previously lost touch with their local service
  • Improved availability of the MS nurses via the telephone with much quicker response times

The programme’s legacy continues across the three pilot sites with each team working on plans to continue evolving their services further.

We have now moved beyond the pilot and have a rolling programme of funding in place. During 2018-2019 we have so far been able to support a further four sites (NHS Lothian, James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, North Lincolnshire and Goole and University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwick.

We are also working with a number of other MS teams and are aiming to fund at least another five MS nurses by July 2020 as part of our aim to ensure that no one has to manage MS alone.

Find out how you can support the Specialist Nurse Programme.

How to apply for funding

The Specialist Nurse Programme offers 80% of all reasonable employment costs for a new, permanent, MS specialist nurse post in areas of greatest need. If you think that you have a good case for establishing a brand new MS nurse post and would like us to help with funding, recruitment, training, mentoring and help you implement service improvements then get in touch!

You will need to complete an application form which helps you detail your current service and set out your ideas for how your will be able to improve the service you offer if you have an extra nurse post in the team. You will also need to provide a business case for the permanent funding of the new MS specialist nurse post which has been approved by your Trust or Health board. The Health Professionals Programme team can work with you and your managers to help you develop your business case.

If you are interested in applying for funding, have any questions, or would just like to talk it through with a member of the team, just get in touch!

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