Updates on the Public Accounts Committee review of neurology 2015

On December 14th the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard evidence on services for people living with neurological conditions. The hearings follow the publication of a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), which showed that the government has failed to achieve key objectives for improving services for millions of people with neurological conditions.

Following the NAO’s report, Neurological Alliance members wrote to the PAC calling for a further review of neurology, which was accepted by the PAC. The hearings took place in December 2015, and transcripts are available from the PAC website.

The hearings included evidence from a range of witnesses including: NHS England CEO Simon Stevens; Una O’Brien, permanent secretary at the Department of Health; Dr David Bateman, National Clinical Director for neurology; Bruce Keogh, NHS England medical director. There was also a pre-hearing panel including Arlene Wilkie, CEO of the Neurological Alliance, alongside representatives of the Association of British Neurologists.

The PAC issued its recommendations in February 2016, and the Government published its response in the April 2016 Treasury Minute. The Government chose to reject a number of key recommendations including one to retain the role of National Clinical Director for adult neurology.

The Neurological Alliance’s position on the Government response is available to read here. Updates on our ongoing work to secure effective clinical leadership for neurology services are available here.

Timeline of activity

2011: National Audit Office (NAO) report on neurology services finds that progress in implementing the 2005 National Service Framework for long-term conditions has been poor

2012: Public Accounts Committee review of neurology services makes a number of recommendations for improvement, including the creation of regional clinical networks for neurology, the development of a national data set, and the appointment of a National Clinical Director

2013: Establishment of regional clinical networks for neurology, and appointment of Dr David Bateman as National Clinical Director

2014: Neurological Alliance members write to then-PAC chair, Margaret Hodge, to ask for a progress review of the 2012 recommendations

2014: The Treasury issues a review of progress towards the PAC’s recommendations

2014: Creation of the first national neurology data set and the Neurology Intelligence Network

2015: Neurological Alliance engages with the National Audit Office to ask for a progress update on neurology services and the PAC’s 2012 recommendations

July 2015: NAO progress review finds poor or moderate progress against the PAC’s 2012 recommendations

September 2015: Neurological Alliance members write to the new PAC chair, Meg Hillier, to call for a PAC inquiry based on the NAO’s findings

October 2015: NICE announces the development of a general guideline on neurological conditions, as recommended by the PAC in 2012. Publication scheduled for 2018

December 2015: PAC inquiry takes place with evidence from Neurological Alliance CEO Arlene Wilkie, National Clinical Director Dr David Bateman, and Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England among others.

February 2016: PAC recommendations published.

April 2016: Government response published.

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