12th May 2016

People living with neurological conditions ‘let down’ by government response to PAC

People living with neurological conditions have been let down by the government’s response to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s recommendations for improving neurology services. The response, which was published in the April 2016 Treasury Minute, rejects a number of the PAC’s recommendations, while offering only generic solutions to other issues identified in the committee’s report.

The Neurological Alliance’s full response to the government is available here.

The PAC’s report made it clear that services for people with neurological conditions “are not consistently good enough”, and criticised NHS England for the low level of attention given to neurology. It noted that “It is clear that neurological conditions are not a priority for the Department of Health (the Department) and NHS England.”

This conclusion is supported by the Government’s failure to accept key PAC recommendations, including calls to retain the national clinical director for neurological conditions and to deliver a care plan for everyone living with a long-term condition. As a result, neurology services will continue to lag behind other service areas in service standards and patient outcomes.

There is considerable evidence that neurology services suffer from a number of serious issues, including enormous regional variation in access to services and widespread disengagement by local commissioners patients variations report. A survey of almost 7,000 people patients variations report with neurological conditions found that 58% of patients have experienced problems in accessing the services or treatment they need.

Arlene Wilkie, chief executive of the Neurological Alliance, said: “Once again, the Government has sent a message that the needs of people with neurological conditions are simply not important enough to focus on. Rather than accepting the criticisms of the Public Accounts Committee, both the Department of Health and NHS England have attempted to deflect blame and evade responsibility. There can be no justification for discontinuing national clinical leadership for neurology when so many patients are not receiving the essential treatment, care and support services that they require.”

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