by Prof Gavin Giovannoni

What has Tony Blair got to do with multiple sclerosis? #MSBlog #NeuroSpeak

Tony Blair is famously quoted as putting ‘Education, education, education, …’ at the centre of New Labour’s manifesto in 1997. However, it is the type, or quality, of education that makes a difference. I have learnt that information in itself may pique attention, but it rarely changes behaviour. Therefore I was very impressed at how the feedback session for our first MS Academy went last Friday. The fifteen delegates who participated in the initial 3-day course had to present their projects to the group. They were excellent and they generated a lot of discussion and the need for further follow-on activities. It was clear that act of going away and doing something active made them think about their MS practice and consider the service(s) they provide for their patients with MS. In other words the projects are the nudge to make the education bit change behaviour.

Two of the projects highlighted how important local services are for managing MS. One local audit from a town in England demonstrated that it took over 9 months for someone to be started on a DMT after being diagnosed with active MS. In another similar audit from a similar sized town, but a different part of the country, it took only 8 weeks. Why the difference? In the first town all the patients had to be referred to the large regional neuroscience centre to be assessed. In the other town the neurologists had started their own service and managed their patients locally. The lesson here is that large, dominant, centralised regional neuroscience centres is clearly not the best model when it comes to managing MS. I wonder how many unnecessary relapses, and loss of brain tissue, occurred as a result of the unnecessary delays in the management in the patients living in the first town?

Other participants presented data on MS-related admissions in their hospitals, the management of relapses, etc. It is clear that there is a massive need for a network of MSologists to share knowledge and experiences and to produce pragmatic guidelines to help standardise management of MS across the country. One of the action points is that we are going to start a MS Academy Whats App Group to do just this. The use and power of social networks can’t be underestimated to help improve the management of MS.

If you are interested in joining the Academy and attending the next MS MasterClass please register your interest via this link. The feedback from our first MasterClass was excellent and comes highly recommended by this first group of delegates. Please note this course is also open for non-UK clinicians.

This is the first MS educational course I have been involved in that I have come away from and thought, ‘Yes we can make a difference’.

 

Article originally published on 3 April 2017 on the BartsMS Blog

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