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Celebrating 25 years of MS specialist nursing

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25 years of MS specialist nursing

In the last 25 years the MS specialist nurse workforce in the UK has grown from just two or three to over 200. Together these nurses have made a world of difference to the thousands of people in the UK living with MS, and we’ve trained and supported them every step of the way. To mark this milestone, we caught up with some of the first MS nurses to find out how care has changed during this time, and the challenges we still face to ensure nobody has to manage MS alone. 

It would be no exaggeration to say that for so many people living with MS, their MS specialist nurse can prove to be guiding light in some dark, and often rather frightening times.

Take Tracy, who describes her MS nurse Mary as “the linchpin of my care” and someone who has “made my life with MS a lot more bearable”. Or Jules, who calls her nurse “fabulous, 100% accessible, and really caring and helpful”. “They are our frontline heroes that help with the daily battle that is MS,” Sarfraz enthuses. Julie’s nurse is “always at the end of a phone if I have concerns” and “a friendly face in clinic”. “I don’t know how I would cope without her,” says Karen of her nurse Liz.

Offering invaluable support, information, guidance, or sometimes simply a shoulder to cry on, every day MS specialist nurses all over the UK help make life with MS just that little bit more bearable.

2017 marks 25 years of MS specialist nurses – and what a quarter of a century it’s been. The workforce has grown from a mere three nurses in the early 90s to well over 200 today, and the MS Trust has played a crucial role in this progress. We have trained every MS nurse in the country, developed programmes and resources to ensure nurses have all the tools they need, and, at every opportunity, we’ve shouted from the rooftops just how important these nurses are.

Bu we’re not stopping there. As reported in the last Open Door, our research shows that 64% of people living with MS in the UK – that’s around 68,000 people – live in areas where there aren’t enough MS nurses to provide the care and support they urgently need.

To ensure the next 25 years prove just as successful as the last, we have launched an ambitious campaign to make things better. For the first time, we will be funding, training and supporting new MS specialist nurses in areas most in need of this crucial support.

It’s an ambitious project, but a vital one. So on that note, let’s raise a glass to all the MS nurses from the past 25 years, and look forward to the many more we’ll be welcoming to the fold in the next 25.

We caught up with Gail Clayton, Vicki Matthews and Megan Roberts, three of the first MS nurses, to hear their thoughts on how MS services have changed over the last 25 years, and the challenges we still face to ensure nobody has to manage MS alone.

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