Let’s raise the bar for MS services

28 Mar 2019

After ‘the Way Forward’ in November 2018, it was clear that whilst variation is perhaps not the enemy we initially thought, there are nevertheless a range of challenges facing the MS community around inequity and varied quality that need addressing.It was also clear that there are an array of potential ways to move forward, from effective patient engagement, empowerment and activation, to better collation and use of data, from implementing innovative technology to changing cultures and behaviours around traditional models of care.The take home message, as we heard time and time again throughout the event, however, was summarised succinctly by Professor Jeremy Hobart:
‘it is deeply challenging, but we have to radically change what we do.’
In light of this, when the national steering group for the project to tackle MS services met for the first time, it was decided that rather than putting an end to variance, our aim ought to be to ‘raise the bar’. After all, Professor Ben Bridgewater said of cardiac surgery’s efforts to tackling variance, that rather than reducing variation per se, they succeeded in ‘moving the pack from one place to another’ — driving up quality of care and improving health outcomes. Dr Charlie Davie also suggested that variation is not in itself inherently bad, saying
We want people to have the best choice, based on the best evidence and the best access to what’s available — that will create variation and that’s perfectly legitimate. Increasing personal choice is the ideal outcome.


The steering group for the ‘Raising the bar’ meeting next identified four overarching objectives:
  1. Improve quality of life for people with MS
  2. Improve access to specialist services for people with MS
  3. Improve outcomes for people with MS
  4. Improve efficiency of healthcare utilisation for MS services
  5. Increase MS patient / MSer’s empowerment and activation
They also divided the project into a series of workstreams with which to meet these overarching objectives. Each workstream tackles a different thematic area which featured highly in the solutions generated at our introductory event, ‘the Way Forward’ in November 2018.During this second event: ‘MS Service Provision in the UK 2019: Raising the Bar’, each workstream will have its own session where MSologists and allied health professionals with an interest in improving MS services will have an opportunity to discuss national issues, tools and resources and to distill them to a local level.By the end of the event, the aim is for attendees to feel empowered and equipped to begin actioning change within their chosen workstream at a local level on returning from the conference. These localised projects will all be interconnected through the national workstream, meaning that learning can be shared, positive experiences replicated and challenges faced in community.


Workstreams will be held on the following topics and each attendee will have opportunity to attend two of the five in-depth discussion sessions:
  1. Data
  2. Patient activation
  3. Audit
  4. Social determinants of health
  5. Wellness and lifestyle
It is expected that most of the workstreams will have a strong national element which will equip clinicians and practitioners at a local level, whether through a particular tool, set of guidance or mechanism – this to be discussed and determined as a group at ‘Raising the bar’.There is an additional workstream for leadership – the only one not to have its own discussion session at the event. This is because a bespoke leadership programme is being designed and offered at a national level, and will be offered out to this MS community at the ‘Raising the Bar’ event for the first time.

More information

To find out more about the event, take a look at the programme or find out why we decided it was time to tackle variance in MS services here.
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