The establishment of a community multiple sclerosis team

R. W. Makepeace, M. P. Barnes, J. K. Semlyen, J. Stevenson

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This paper describes the introduction of a community multiple sclerosis team (CMST) in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the North of England. Historically, a service for people with MS had existed in Newcastle upon Tyne since the early 1990s, when the local branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society funded a community physiotherapist. In 1995 a successful bid was made to Newcastle District Health Authority for the establishment of a multidisciplinary community multiple sclerosis team. One hundred and ten thousand pounds ($165 000) per annum was made available, which was further supplemented by continuation of a grant of £10 000 ($15 000) per annum from the local Multiple Sclerosis Society. The team was fully operational by spring 1997. The team consists of a full-time physiotherapist/team leader, rehabilitation assistant and administrator and three part-time professionals – a medically qualified counsellor, clinical neuropsychologist and rehabilitation physician. Additionally, a full-time occupational therapist and social worker have been appointed by the local social services department but paid for from the health budget. A nurse was not appointed to the team as there was an existing MS nurse who was attached to the local neurology department and was developing close links with the team. However, after the completion of this evaluation a part-time nurse has now been appointed to the team with particular expertise in continence management as well as sexual and relationship counselling. It should be emphasized that the team fosters an interdisciplinary mechanism of working with an emphasis on collaboration between professionals and clients in order to give the person with MS and their carers close involvement in the decision-making process. This client-centred approach has the effect of blurring the boundaries of professional roles.
The team developed the administrative base in the local Disabled Living Centre, which is run by a charity. This centre has a fully equipped exhibition of disability equipment and is the base for a disability information service. The team is closely associated with Hunters Moor Regional Neurorehabilitation Centre, which is the specialist rehabilitation centre for the population of the North of England. The team is supported by an advisory panel consisting of representatives from the local community, general practitioners, neurologists, social services, the MS Society and the funding health authority. A research grant was obtained from the Department of Health in the UK in order to employ a full-time researcher (R.W.M.) for a two year period to describe and evaluate the impact of the team.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Rehabilitation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


  • Effectiveness
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Multiple sclerosis

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