By Prof Gavin Giovannoni, Academic Director
How quickly a year passes, particularly if you are healthy and financially secure. We need to spare a thought for people with multiple sclerosis who may not be so lucky and are disabled and unemployed. Let’s hope the recent announcement by Theresa May to end austerity will lead to a major improvement in their circumstances.
At the MS Academy, we are trying to help. We have identified that access to MS services is inequitable. Variation in access to and the prescribing of disease-modifying therapies have been well documented across the UK in surveys performed by the MS Society, MS Trust and the Royal College of Physicians. This has been backed up by data presented at the ABN in Birmingham from the NHS England’s Bluteq high-cost drugs database. This is a problem for people living with MS and is a barrier to improving outcomes for pwMS being managed by the NHS.
To address this problem we initially held a debate in May this year at the ICC Birmingham on whether or not the new NHS England treatment algorithm will reduce variation in the prescribing of DMTs in England. This was followed by a much larger meeting of representatives from MS disease-modifying therapy prescribing centres across the UK, in Birmingham, in early November. The meeting was a great success and generated many ideas and proposals that if implemented could potentially solve the problem of variance in the NHS. We are now planning to hold the subsequent follow-on meeting next year, on the 8th and 9th of July, at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre (BCEC), to implement several of the proposals that emerged from this meeting. Places are limited so register now.
The MS Academy continues to nudge attendees to think laterally and to challenge the current MS service model. We specifically ask trainees to focus on the patient and to imagine what a reactive MS service should look like.
“If you had MS what would you want from your MS service?”
Our MS MasterClasses continues to emphasise MS service development and doing things better. The interactive nature of the classes and the collaborative spirit means delegates are sharing best practice and hence should be adopting innovations more rapidly. The extensive use of case studies continues to highlight why it is important to adopt a more proactive approach to the management of MS. Time matters in the management of MS and the consequences for individual patients can have major consequences.
This year Dr Francisco Javier Carod Artal won the MS MasterClass 2 award for his study on the ‘epidemiology of MS in the Scottish highlands: prevalence, incidence and time to get a proper diagnosis and start a DMT’. His project highlighted how common MS is in Scotland and that the MS epidemic is alive and kicking. Rachel Dorsey-Campbell won the Masterclass 3 award for the implementation of her pharmacy-led prescribing service for the monitoring of natalizumab patients. I am sure many other MS centres may try and copy this service. Finally, Daisy Cam won the MS Masterclass 4 award for her project on setting-up and running an acupuncture service for people with MS-related pain. Her project demonstrates what can be done if you are prepared to walk the extra mile for your patients. It is worth reading some of the other projects presented this year to see if any of them could help your service.
It is an uncertain time to be a healthcare professional engaged with the management of MS. With Brexit on the horizon, increasing staff shortages and other financial pressures we are going to have to do things differently next year. I sincerely hope the MS Academy is helping you do things differently. Please use the holiday season to reflect on the past year and consider what the new year will bring for you, your centre and your patients.
We would like to invite you to join the Academy, either as a speaker, mentor or delegate. Hear me explain why:
Join our first MS MasterClass of 2019:
We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Posted in: The Academy