I am really delighted to be appointed Honorary Strategic Director for the Multiple Sclerosis Academy. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the Academy and some of the plans that we have for the next few years.
From my first involvement at the pilot stage of the first Masterclass it was clear that the Multiple Sclerosis Academy was something new, exciting, and audacious. Led by Gavin Giovanonni, an all-star cast of UK MS experts convened in Sheffield to talk about multiple sclerosis; but the experts were there to learn as well as to teach. Sessions were practical, challenging and interactive. Breaks were filled with conversations where ideas from different services throughout the country and Europe were shared. Problems were discussed and solved. Protocols and papers were exchanged. Delegates left with new friends and connections, enthused with ideas about improving the care that their service could provide.
My personal highlight was the project session. Delegates had returned to their hospitals, looked critically at their services, and presented their results. We learnt about differences in referral times, management of relapses, bladder management, access to MS nurses and therapies. Most importantly, and with the help of the meeting, all the delegates had taken the next step and thought about how they could change things for the better. We left motivated and optimistic.
Over the next few years we hope to build upon these early experiences. We plan many more Masterclasses, with involvement of more of the multidisciplinary team. Through the academy website we aim to build both a resource hub, with projects, publications and useful links, and a community, where alumni can share news, problems and advice. Through the growing network of alumni we hope to produce crowdsourced and pragmatic guidance to standardise better MS care together.
If you are interested in MS care, I would really encourage you to join a Masterclass, follow our news, contribute to the community, and let us know how you would like us to develop. I hope together that we can lead to a positive impact to the lives of people with MS.