MS Trust has launched a campaign called #FairMSCare, which is aimed at raising awareness of the urgent need for more multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurses across the country.
Latest figures show us that there are now approximately 130,000 people in the UK living with MS, which is a 21% increase in previous estimations. For many people, MS nurses provide a lifeline for care and support, but worrying, thousands are missing out simply because there aren’t enough nurses in the UK, plus the nurses who are available are juggling multiple, unmanageable caseloads.
MS Trust research confirms that there is a desperate lack of MS nurses across the UK. An MS nurse should have a caseload of 315, yet up to 80% of people with MS are living in areas where MS nurses have caseloads in excess of the sustainable caseload figure of 315, and of those people, nearly a quarter (36,000) live in areas where caseloads are twice the recommended level.
They estimate that up to 115 new MS specialist nurses are needed to ensure that everyone living with MS can access the specialist support and care they need to live well with MS.
Beyond the needs of MS patients, training more specialist nurses would help an NHS service crippled by record waiting times and labour shortages.
The MS Trust estimates that each nurse saves the service £72,000 per year in hospital admissions, visits to A&E and appointments with neurologists and GPs.
With clear benefits to those with MS as well as the NHS, the MS Trust is working hard to address the shortage of MS nurses. Through its Specialist Nurse Programme, the charity has already funded seven extra nurses in the areas across the UK that need them most.
Jenna Chudasama has benefited from this programme, with her nurse Jon Maisey who was the first to be funded by the MS Trust as part of its specialist programme. Jenna was diagnosed with MS aged 22 while studying teaching at university:
“When I met my MS nurse everything started to make sense. I could ask the questions I wanted to: What is MS? How is it going to affect me and my life? I left my first appointment thinking, ‘I can do this. Yes I’ve got this condition, but I can deal with it.”
“I’m a natural worrier and I need answers to my questions, or they will just fester in my mind and that’s where Jon comes in. Whether it’s having issues with a DVLA application or concerns about my holiday, Jon is able to give me an answer instantly, and if not, he calls back when he does have the information.”
“I am so grateful, and I have always felt so blessed that I have a nurse who is constantly there to support me in every way. It’s worrying for me to know some areas don’t have that support. I can’t imagine not having Jon to contact.”
David Martin, CEO at the MS Trust, commented:
“MS specialist nurses do a fantastic job, but they are coming under increasing pressure to deliver the same exceptional level of care while taking on more and more patients. As a result, we know that many people with MS are missing out on the specialist support they need and deserve.
“This is simply not right or fair. We’ve launched our new campaign to highlight this desperate shortage of MS nurses across the UK, and we now call on the government and health ministers to work with us to ensure people with MS are not left to manage their MS alone.”