18th December 2015
Public Accounts Committee hearings on neurology
On Monday 14th December 2015, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee held a hearing on neurology services. This followed the publication of the National Audit Office’s progress review of neurology services earlier this year, as well as representations made to the committee by Neurological Alliance members.
Witnesses at the hearing included Arlene Wilkie, CEO of the Neurological Alliance, who joined a panel alongside the neurologists Dr Geraint Fuller and Dr Paul Morrish. This was followed by a second panel consisting of NHS England CEO Simon Stevens, medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, Department of Health permanent secretary Una O’Brien, and the National Clinical Director for neurological conditions, Dr David Bateman.
We would like to thank members for their support in pushing for a PAC review of neurology, as well as all those who attended the hearing. It was great to see so much support for the review from across the neurological community.
One of the significant comments made during the hearing by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England Medical Director, was that he indicated that the role of National Clinical Director for neurological conditions would not be continued beyond March 2016. We believe that this is a short-sighted and fundamentally misguided decision. The very small savings released by discontinuing the role will be dwarfed by the costs to neurology services associated with losing national clinical leadership. Additionally, the decision reinforces the perception that NHS England does not give sufficient priority or focus to securing much-needed improvements to neurology services.
We are currently seeking an urgent meeting with NHS England to discuss this issue in person, and we have also written to the PAC chair, Meg Hillier MP, to set out our concerns about the evidence given by NHS England at the hearing. Early in the new year we will also be in touch with members regarding a potential joint member response to NHS England and approaches to engaging parliamentarians to help contest the decision. We would value enormously your support and engagement on this important issue for the future of neurology services.