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MST UK continues to grow!

28th November 2013

With 30 MST teams now operating across 26 sites in England, five teams across three sites in Scotland and three teams in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom has expanded rapidly over the last few years.

In 2001, when a group in London and another in Cambridge secured local funding to start the first MST teams, leaders within the UK government kept a keen eye on their progress. In 2007, buoyed by the success of these pioneering teams, the Department for Education and Department of Health funded 10 additional teams.

“The financial climate has been very difficult here, as in the U.S., but it’s meant focussed interest on achieving better value for the money, so it’s actually helped us rather than being a problem,” says Cathy James, MST Programme Lead in NHS England and a key force behind building the MST network in the U.K.

Part of the funding agreement for the 10 teams included participation in a national research trial that would eventually include 684 families. “We wanted to test the evidence here in the U.K., because although the evidence is great in the U.S., we differ in infrastructure and other areas,” says Cathy.

Due to be published in 2014, the results of the nationwide Randomised Control Trial will coincide with the U.K.’s hosting of the second MST European Conference in May. "The timing is perfect," says Cathy. “We’ve seen what the teams are achieving, so we’re looking forward to presenting the results at the conference.” A smaller, single-site study, published in 2011, and the first MST trial in the country, provided valuable, positive outcomes, “particularly in the changes young people made and are continuing to make over time,” says Cathy. “The larger study builds on that, and is a big enough piece of research to provide us with some quite sophisticated messages.”

Parallel to that, the U.K. group began exploring what it would take to become a network partner, and last year entered into a partnership agreement. “We’ve now recruited three MST consultants to do the training and consultation for the majority of our teams,” says Cathy.