Quality statement 2: Follow-up after diagnosis

Quality statement

Adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) are offered a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS, to take place within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Rationale

It can be difficult for people with MS to take in the information and advice they are given at the time of diagnosis. A follow‑up appointment provides time for people with MS to adjust to their diagnosis. They can think about the information that they were given and any further information they want, and then can have any questions answered by a specialist. The appointment means that people with MS can meet healthcare professionals with expertise in MS, who may be involved in their future care, soon after diagnosis.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that adults with MS have a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

Proportion of adults with MS who have a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Numerator – The number in the denominator who have a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Denominator – The number of adults receiving a new diagnosis of MS.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (neurology services) ensure that systems are in place for adults with MS to have a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Healthcare professionals (consultant neurologists) ensure that they offer adults with MS a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with themselves or another healthcare professional with expertise in MS, to take place within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

Commissioners (NHS England local area teams and clinical commissioning groups) ensure that they commission services in which adults with MS are offered a face‑to‑face follow‑up appointment with a healthcare professional with expertise in MS, to take place within 6 weeks of diagnosis.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Adults with MS are offered an appointment with a specialist to take place within 6 weeks of their diagnosis. This gives them time to read and think about the information they were given at the time of diagnosis and the opportunity to have any questions answered by a healthcare professional with experience in MS. They can also ask for more information and support if they need it. The appointment also gives them the opportunity to meet a healthcare professional who will be involved in their care and to find out how and when to contact them in the future.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Healthcare professional with expertise in MS

The neurologist responsible for making the diagnosis of MS should ensure that a formal face‑to‑face follow‑up within 6 weeks is provided by themselves or another healthcare professional with expertise in MS (such as an MS nurse), depending on the local service organisation.

[Adapted from Multiple sclerosis in adults: management (NICE full guideline CG186) section 6.6].

Equality and diversity considerations

Cognitive problems are a common symptom of MS. People can experience a wide range of difficulties, including problems with attention, memory and decision-making, and planning. This might mean that people with MS forget that they have an appointment, so they should be reminded about the appointment and contacted if they do not attend.