Extending our reach – transforming care through increasing forms of education


Sarah Gillett

Managing Director, Neurology Academy

By Sarah Gillett, Managing Director

What an incredible year it has been for Neurology Academy! January kicked off with us being shortlisted for Best Educational Programme for the NHS within the the prestigious HSJ awards. Our entry, ‘Addressing variation in MS services nationally through clinical engagement and collaboration’ focussed on our national programme to ‘raise the bar’ for MS and was a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile for neurology, for the importance of practical education, and to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. We are thrilled to have such an amazing alumni, all of whom are working to improve services and support for those living with a neurological condition.

Our programme to ‘raise the bar’ for MS and tackle unwanted variance has continued apace, with our latest meeting in July drawing over 100 enthusiastic healthcare professionals all committed ‘to improve MS services for all people with MS and their families, and to make delivering these services for all involved a rich and rewarding experience.’ With developments across the five workstreams and the first reported findings from an initial audit of MS services expected early in the new year, our ‘essential update’ released last week details all you need to know and will help you to get involved.

A new blueprint for preventative dementia care was developed by a group of our Dementia Academy speakers and alumni, led by faculty member Prof Iracema Leroi. Focussing on early dementia prevention based on a range of lifestyle and wellness factors, the blueprint sets out a model of care which could reduce the number of people living with dementia by up to 30%. Our Dementia Academy delegates formed an expert consensus group and contributed towards an accessible ‘blueprint’ for a Brain Health Clinic which can be tailored to local services. The blueprint will be online soon through Dementia Academy where it can be accessed or downloaded as an interactive pdf tool. An academic article to support its creation is awaiting publication.

Our MS and Parkinson’s MasterClasses continue to go from strength to strength, with numbers consistently high for both. Most rewarding to see is the practical way that delegates take their learning and apply it locally, shown brilliantly through their intermodule projects.

Most recently, Parkinson’s MasterClass 36A project winner Dr Tom Mace, shared his exciting local work in a Parkinson’s Hub, part of a newly commissioned integrated care pathway for Parkinson’s to tie in with the clinical commissioning group (CCG)’s current focus on frailty. The project, which details all elements of the person-centred service from the referrals and assessment processes to personnel, infrastructure and data sharing, is available online to give you a very quick overview of this exciting service.

Our MS7 intermodule project win was awarded to MS specialist nurse Rachel Morrison. Her work explored the use of an MS Passport in her patient population in the Western Isles, examining the personal, clinical, and cost benefits of a self-monitored, hand-held record of each individual’s MS and our MS8 winners did a joint project, Ruth Stross, MS Nurse Specialist, Surrey Downs Health and Care and Dr Ioana Cociasu, Clinical Fellow in Neurology, St George’s Hospital were voted as the overall winners. They have begun to map out and develop an integrated care pathway (ICP) for people diagnosed with MS within the new NHS integrated care system ‘Surrey Heartlands’.

With new MasterClass offerings beginning from January 2020, next year promises to be just as exciting. February 2020 will see our first ever Leadership MasterClass running, and the first nine sought-after spaces have been filled following a thorough application process. Developed in partnership with Barbara Hoese and Professor Gabriele de Luca and tailored to the neurological healthspace, to support the growth of new clinical leaders, the course will equip its delegates to confidently and comprehensively lead the change they want to see in their local services.

We also have exciting plans for a new Alzheimer's MasterClass, scheduled for the Summer. With dementia of all kinds affecting greater numbers of our population, we have been running a Dementia MasterClass for the past few years, the next course of which will be available next year. The new Alzheimer’s MasterClass will focus in on the specifics of diagnosing and managing Alzheimer’s in particular. Professionals can register their interest from now onwards and applications for the course, running on 8th-9th July 2020, will open in the new year.

A final thank you must go to all our pharma and charity partners who support much of the work that’s undertaken. Without them we would not be as successful in ensuring the quality improvements that have materialised over the years. We hope that through their engagement with us this has strengthened their relationships with clinical teams.

From all of our team at Neurology Academy, we wish you a joyful Christmas and a healthy and vibrant start to your New Year. We look forward to working with you all in 2020.

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Uniquely practical education, producing specialist clinical leaders transforming local healthcare

Neurology Academy is an innovative educational provider for healthcare professionals including consultants, specialist nurses, pharmacists, therapists and other allied health professionals. Our courses are developed by practicing specialists who combine their experience and expertise into case-based learning designed to create specialists in their field with confidence in effecting change.