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Report reveals heavy caseload of UK MS specialist nurses’ compromises patient care

The MS Trust has confirmed that specialist multiple sclerosis (MS) nurses in the UK are handling heavier caseloads than recommended or preferred and, according to the charity’s latest report, means that patients are going without the necessary care and support they deserve.

The report, titled “MS Specialist Nursing in the UK 2018: Results from the 2018 MS Trust Nurse Mapping Survey”, reveals that each MS Specialist Nurse in the UK handles 379 patients on average, rather than the 315 recommended by the Trust as a ‘sustainable figure’. The 2018 report also notes that treatments require more complex and careful monitoring, which no doubt adds additional work to a nurse’s caseload. A significant variation in caseloads across the UK was identified, with 69% of MS patients living in areas where MS specialist nurses have caseloads in excess of the recommended sustainable figure.

While conducting the report, the Trust found the number of whole-time equivalent (WTE, a unit of measure that converts part-time working hours into full-time equivalents) of MS specialist nurses increased by up to 4% from 241 to 250 in the last two years. However, it claimed that this increase ‘has not been rapid enough to counteract the lower sustainable caseload figure and increase in the number of people with MS’.

Nearly a quarter of MS patients (more than 26,000 people) were found to live in areas where caseloads are more than twice the recommended number.

The report also found considerable variation in the degree of nursing provision across the UK, with the most significant care shortages identified in England and Scotland.

The Trust recommends that between 61 and 105 new MS specialist nurses are needed countrywide to reach one nurse for every 315 patients.

Source: MS-UK, 14/11/18

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