Multiple sclerosis nurses face increased pressure

Three-year evaluation of MS nurses finds the specialist nurses are in danger of providing inequalities in care

Multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurses are facing increased pressure on services which could lead to inequities in the provision of care, a report has revealed.

People with MS are also more likely to turn to their specialist nurse over any other healthcare professional, according to research from the MS Trust.

The charity has published findings from a three-year evaluation of MS services which collected data from 15 MS teams across the UK which provide services for more than 15,000 people living with MS.

Amy Bowen, MS Trust director of service development, said there are around 245 MS specialist nurses currently working across the UK in different environments.

'They are in both urban and rural areas, acute and community-based, and there is a strong pressure on services that we need to be vigilant about. There is also a shortfall of 62 nurses.

'As the numbers of people with relapsing MS increases, care becomes more complex because of so many treatment options.'

The report states that a critical challenge facing MS nurses is the increased amount of time spent supporting people taking the newer disease modifying drugs, and a growing pressure to increase the UK’s comparatively low treatment rates.

However, half of the people living with MS in the UK have progressive forms of the disease and are not eligible for these treatments, but have complex and challenging care needs.

'There are also ways of working better with what we have,' according to Ms Bowen.

'Excellent admin is essential as it is such a strong pull on nurses' time, MS nurses as independent prescribers can be beneficial and it is important to make good use of the multidisciplinary team.'