The burden of MS: the scale and cost of admissions

November 25th 2015 category Commissioning Excellence

Our new report on the burden of MS, written in conjunction with the MS Trust, reveals what an enormous strain the hospitalisation of people with MS puts on the NHS. In 2013/14 emergency admissions alone cost £43 million.

There are about 90,000 people in England with MS, and there has been a steady increase in their admissions to hospital. Whilst admissions are growing, it’s the non-elective (emergency) admissions that commissioners need to focus on. People with MS frequently tell us that the right care and support is not in place to help them manage their MS. The report’s data not only reinforces this point, but uncovers the scale of the problem – highlighting just how important is it that CCGs take urgent action.

The true impact of emergency admissions

Non-elective admissions are the major focus of the report, because these are unplanned emergency admissions which carry significant costs. In the year 2013/14 there were 23,554 emergency admissions for people with MS (which cost the NHS £43 million).

Despite this emergency care being in the minority of the total hospital admissions, these took a huge financial share of the NHS purse. In 2013/14 financial year only 27% of admissions for people with MS were non-elective, but these accounted for 46% of hospital care costs.

When we look more closely at the 23,554 non-elective admissions, we see that these relate to 14,960 unique individuals (equating to only 17% of all the people with MS in England). Further investigation reveals that a significant proportion of these emergency admissions were in fact re-admissions: 37% (8,695) of people are hitting the ‘revolving doors’ at A&E.

The message for CCGs

It’s quite simple:

  1. Find these patients
  2. Do something about it!
  3. Look at what’s sending them into hospital

Not only do these individuals cost you money, these admissions are very distressing for the patient and their family.

Using data to understand the problem

Several years ago I wrote a 10-step guide to commissioning neurology services - step one was ‘get the data - look at the size of the problem’.

Until recently the availability of data for neurology (as with many other conditions) has been poor but data sources are improving and the Public Health England Neurology Intelligence Network (NIN) is a great start. But CCGs and providers should do a deeper dive into comorbidity data sources so they can properly get to grips with the problems they need to deal with and accurately plan services to provide the necessary level of integrated care and intervention that people with MS need. They can then hopefully avert the crises which lead to emergency admission.

At a neurology commissioning meeting we held on 19 November in Haydock, Karen Vernon, MS Nurse Consultant in Salford, highlighted how she is now using data to support their service redesign in MS; she said it has taken a while to get to grips with things but she is now “data hungry”!

In my next blog I’ll be looking at the causes surrounding why these admissions in MS occur so it will give you a heads up on how you can take action and improve MS patient care in your area.

Read the full report on MS here.

About the Author

Sue Thomas

Sue Thomas

Chief Executive for Commissioning Excellence
View more posts by Sue Thomas

November 25th 2015 category Commissioning Excellence

Commissioning Excellence

As one of NHS England’s recognised niche specialist commissioning support providers, we offer a full range services to assist you in improving patient outcomes. Our experience covers all long term conditions, with a particular specialism in the field of neurology.

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