Nurses who specialize in treating multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the U.K. are handling heavier caseloads than recommended or preferred, resulting in patients going without the necessary care and support they deserve, the MS Trust reports.
Particularly, the 2018 report notes that newer treatments require more complex and careful monitoring. However, it found that each MS Specialist Nurse (MSSN) handles 379 patients on average, rather than the 315 the group considers a “sustainable figure.”
The October report, “MS Specialist Nursing in the UK 2018: Results from the 2018 MS Trust Nurse Mapping Survey,” builds on the MS Trust’s 2016 survey. It is based on data from responses by MS specialist nursing teams, or nurses with an MS-only caseload, across the U.K.
In 2018, the Trust found that — although 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 (MSSNs) increased by up to 4% between 2016 and 2018 (from 241 to 250) — this increase “has not been rapid enough to counteract the lower sustainable caseload figure and increase in the number of people with MS.”
Currently, the recommended caseload for MSSNs is 358. But work by the MS Trust show that as patient care and demands on MS nurses changed, a lesser number is more suitable.
“The existing sustainable caseload of 358 people with MS for each WTE MSSN was recognized as too high. Work recently commissioned by the MS Trust … recommended 315 as more realistic,” the report states.
Furthermore, a nearly a quarter of MS patients (more than 26,000 people) live in areas where caseloads are more than twice the recommended number. And, working on with an estimate of 127,000 total MS patients in the U.K., the Trust report found that 77 percent “live in areas where caseloads are in excess of 315 per WTE” nurse specialist.
This excess suggests MS patients there are missing out on proper care, and symptom and treatment management.
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