Neurological care in England criticised by MPs’ report

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Posted 26/02/2016 By: Julie Crossley

Health services for people with neurological conditions in England are not good enough, says a report from a committee of MPs. It criticises poorly co-ordinated local services, patchy hospital care and long delays in diagnosing conditions like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. More than four million people have a neurological condition but few have a care plan, the report says. The Department of Health said it would consider the recommendations.

The MPs say their report should be taken as a wake-up call, to improve services for what can be devastating or even fatal conditions. They describe the impact of disparities, for example, in epilepsy care. In south-west Lincolnshire nearly nine out of ten patients were seizure-free for 12 months, while in Hull and north Manchester it was fewer than five out of ten.

The report recommends that NHS England find a way of tackling the problem of variation in services and explain how it will offer everyone with a long-term condition a personalised care plan. It also urges NHS England to make better use of the 650 consultant neurologists in England, as well as other specialist nurses, to improve access to care for patients.

Although some progress has been made since a previous report in 2012 made recommendations aimed at improving neurological services in England, the report said changes have “not yet led to improvements in services and outcomes for patients”. The committee says it is concerned that neurological conditions are “not a priority” for the Department of Health and NHS England.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was committed to giving patients with neurological conditions the very best care, regardless of where they lived. “We spend over £3bn every year on neurological services, we have set up a new children’s national epilepsy service and we are making sure patients with progressive neurological diseases can access the latest technology to help them communicate. But we know that more can be done and, along with NHS England, we will consider these recommendations and respond in due course.”

Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “It is crucial that diagnosis of these sometimes life changing diseases is made at the earliest possible time to allow patients to get early intervention which may in some circumstances stem their symptoms and offer them a better quality of life. Once diagnosed, support is vital to both the patient and their families. Delays can lead to avoidable litigation which only adds further distress.”


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