Clinical Nurse Specialist



There is a shortage of between 120 and 214 multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurses in the UK and some have caseloads of almost double the recommended number of patients. A recent survey by the MS Trust, a national charity supporting people with the condition, found a shortfall of at least 126 and possibly up to 214 nurses in the UK. The investigation into specialist MS nursing found nurses were routinely managing caseloads of around 550 patients rather than the recommended 300 per nurse. The survey, which had a response rate of 97 per cent, found there was a high level of variation in the availability of the 245 MS specialist nurses in the UK. Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust MS nurse consultant Karen Vernon says:


Multiple sclerosis specialist nurses provide a vital service but are in short supply, says Stephanie Jones-Berry

ACTING AS A TRUSTED EDUCATOR Debbie Quinn is a multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurse at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and also works ten hours a week as a nurse adviser for the MS Trust. She says the role of the MS specialist nurse has changed as new treatments have been developed and her role as an educator is particularly important. ‘My focus is on providing specialist advice to people with MS, their carers and families, and providing them with a key contact. ‘We are trusted – patients know they can come to us. We have that expertise.’

Research conference The Scottish Research Nurse and Coordinators Network conference, titled Celebrating clinical research nursing in Scotland will take place on October 31 at the City Quay Hotel in Dundee. Scotland’s chief nursing officer Ros Moore will lead the event by speaking about the nursing contribution to clinical research. Sessions and workshops will precede the presentation of the Scottish research nurse of the year 2014 award. For further details and how to register, go to Leadership The NHS leadership programme the Frontline nursing and midwifery programme supports nurses and midwives working in people’s homes, nursing homes, in the community or on the wards providing NHS-funded

In 2009, Ms Quinn established an admissions avoidance pathway project in tandem with the emergency department at Kettering General Hospital, saving commissioners £600,000 a year. ‘Patients were going in to the emergency department who did not need to be there,’ she explains. In the first six months, 13 admissions were avoided. Five years on, three to four patients each month are diverted. ‘Specialist nurses might be viewed as costly,’ says Ms Quinn. ‘We have lots of innovation but we are not good at selling ourselves or our services.’

care. Delivered over six months, and taught through a mix of online learning and face-to-face workshops, the programme helps them to develop skills to reflect on their strengths, role and ability to make a difference to people’s lives. The programme is delivered by the NHS Leadership Academy and places are fully funded for NHS staff or   those delivering NHS-funded care. To apply, go to Record-keeping RCN Wales will hold a morning study day to identify the principles of accurate record-keeping and explore ways of developing this skill. The seminar will be held from 9.30am until 12.30 at the Conwy Business Centre, Llandudno Way, Llandudno Junction, LL31 9XX and will be facilitated by RCN Wales primary care and independent

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MS Trust specialist nurse survey UK Multiple Sclerosis Specialist Nurse Association NICE guideline on management of multiple sclerosis ‘What is evident is that there are not enough MS nurses. We have large numbers on our caseload that cannot be sustained. ‘As MS nursing services continue to be under review, the evidence from this study could prove to be invaluable.’ MS Trust director of service development Amy Bowen agrees: ‘These findings are concerning. There are areas of the UK where there are no specialist nurses.’ Ms Bowen says MS nurses provide an important service to patients at all stages of the condition. ‘We know how complex, variable and different the needs of people with MS are. These needs can be cognitive, psychological, movement, sensory impairment, memory, mood. There is a powerful case for specialist nurses for these conditions.’ Around 87 per cent of MS nurses are funded by the NHS NS Stephanie Jones-Berry is a freelance journalist

Mandy Edwards offers advice for future PhD students

How to plan your doctorate Do you have an idea that you believe would make a great piece of research and could lead to a PhD, but are unsure of what to do? Try exploring the research literature for published protocols to get an idea; approach a local university for guidance. Researchminded colleagues may also give you advice. It is important to outline your   approach clearly with a sound rationale. Often, it is the methodology and   methods section that will contain the   most detail, as you need to show that   you understand the conceptual underpinnings of the methodology. It is helpful to include a time frame detailing how long you envisage each step to take. If you are hoping to undertake the research full-time, this will be over three years. If you are hoping to do it part-time, the time frame may vary and can take anything from four to seven years. Ethical considerations, especially if you are planning to work with patients or staff in the NHS, are an integral part of research. It is important to demonstrate that you have thought through how the project might RESOURCES Getting a PhD in Health and Social Care by Immy Holloway and Jan Walker How to get a PhD: a Handbook for Students and their Supervisors   by Estelle Phillips and Derek Pugh

sector adviser Nigel Downes. The session will be repeated on January 16 at RCN Wales headquarters at Ty Maeth, Cardiff.  See Volunteering The overseas volunteering charity VSO UK is calling for volunteers from a variety of professional backgrounds as it launches a recruitment campaign. It is targeting professionals from health backgrounds to encourage them to apply for a VSO placement. VSO UK aims to fight poverty through volunteers. See District nursing The RCN Northern Ireland Community Nursing Network is holding a conference on November 14 at RCN Northern Ireland in Belfast: District nursing service –

Format of a research protocol: Background – why the research is necessary. Aims – what question/s your research is going to answer. Methodology and methods – justify your chosen research approach and what methods you will use for data collection and analysis. Timeframes – timetable or Gantt chart demonstrating how long you believe each section of the research project will take. Ethical considerations – are there any ethical issues and how will these be addressed?



affect its participants and what safeguards you would put in place. Submitting a protocol can be a   nerve-wracking experience, but with some background reading and belief in the practical value of your idea, it is worth having the confidence to pursue it. Every journey has to start with a single step. Mandy Edwards is a former doctoral student at the University of South Wales

transformation or fragmentation? The objective is to explore the pressures on front line district nursing services. The network is keen to hear personal stories from practising district nurses in advance of the event. For information and submission of personal stories, go to [email protected] Pay march On Saturday October 18, RCN members   will be supporting the TUC-led Britain needs a pay rise protest in central London. Nurses can attend this major demonstration by joining at Embankment from 11am.   The march will go along Embankment, across Trafalgar Square, along Regent Street and then along Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner, where it will enter the park for the rally.   To join RCN members:   For full details visit

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Clinical nurse specialist - a serious shortfall in numbers.

There is a shortage of between 120 and 214 multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurses in the UK and some have caseloads of almost double the recommende...
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