Girl in a wheelchair gets treatment

Advanced Multiple Sclerosis Champions saving the NHS millions

The results from an innovative pilot programme, ran by the leading Multiple Sclerosis (MS) charity, have revealed that installing Advanced Multiple Sclerosis Champions (AMSC) in an NHS Trust’s MS team significantly improved the quality of life for patients, cut workforce workload, freed up capacity, and saved each site participating more than £450,000 annually.

The charity, MS Trust, ran the pilot in response to many with Advanced Multiple Sclerosis (AMS) reporting to them that they began to lose contact with specialist services as their conditions deteriorated; the charity therefore sought to reengage those who had slipped through the cracks and provide them with the care they needed.

Not only did the initiative greatly improve the lives of patients, the regular home visits meant that patients were no longer relying on informal care from friends and family, thus easing the burden on them as well.

Studying the impact of the pilot across the six trailblazing sites in Salford, Swansea, Cumbria, Poole, Norfolk, and Bristol, an evaluation found that, on average, each site saved:

  • 52 hospital admissions annually
  • £465,376 annually
  • 403 emergency bed days annually
  • 91 MS Specialist Nurse appointments annually
  • 115 GP appointments annually

David Martin, CEO of the MS Trust, said: “The pilot has shown that the AMSC role is not only financially viable but has significant cost savings for the NHS, improves patient flow, outcomes and patient experience for people with AMS and their families and has been greatly welcomed by other health and social care professionals. Crucially, the role helped to free up much needed hospital beds in each of the six areas.

“These Champions are game changers for the NHS. With services under increased pressure, it is essential that policy makers in Government recognise the detrimental effect that AMS can have when not managed properly, something which is entirely avoidable.

“This is about coordaining services which are already in place to relieve pressure on local health care services and ultimately protecting the individual. Now more than ever, the NHS needs to find ways of joining up services which are already running well to save precious resource and the AMSC does exactly that.”

Such was the success of the AMSC trial, the MS Trust is now calling on decision and policy makers to provide the funding and resources to enable the programme to expand nationally, embedding AMSCs into NHS Trusts up and down the country.

The charity have also already started recruiting for stage two of the AMSC programme in a bid to ensure that as many of the estimated 40,000 people suffering from AMS in the UK benefit from the service, alongside the significant financial and workforce gains for the sector overall.

Tania Burge, Head of Service at MS Trust, who was also an AMSC for the pilot in Bristol, said: “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMSC post has become more vital than ever.

“It supports people with advanced MS who are struggling with the ongoing implications of lockdown and have experienced reduced access to health professionals to manage their MS symptoms. This role has improved the quality of life for many people with advanced MS, enabling them to live well and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.”

With the latest statistics showing the neurology backlog surpassing 200,000 and an MS Trust mapping report finding that MS nurses have an unsustainable caseload, the introduction and wider expansion of the AMSC scheme will help reduce backlog by freeing up time for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, allowing them to optimise their output and deliver the world class care that patients deserve.

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NHE May/June 2024

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