The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Neurology care varies across the country

Many CCGs fail to properly assess provision

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Standards of care for neurology patients vary considerably across the country. 

A new report published today on the state of neurology services reveals an ‘alarming lack of understanding’ around local neurological populations and their needs. 

Published by the Neurological Alliance, 'The Invisible Patients: Revealing the state of neurology services’ presents the findings of a survey of almost 7,000 patients and a Freedom of Information (FOI) audit of every clinical commissioning group (CCG) across the country. 

It reveals that the large majority of CCGs are failing to carry out essential processes for neurological conditions in their area. Key findings include:

  • Only 14.7% of CCGs have assessed local costs relating to the provision of neurology services.
  • Only 20.4% of CCGs have assessed the number of people using neurological services, while only 26.2% have assessed the prevalence of neurological conditions within their area.
  • Only 33% of CCGs obtain vital feedback from patients in regards to the neurological services they commission.

These issues have a significant impact on patients’ care, states the report, with 58.1% of patients having experienced problems in accessing the services or treatment they need and 71.5% of patients having not been offered a care plan to help manage their condition.

Responding to such findings, The Invisible Patients sets out 10 recommendations for commissioners, these include calling for every CCG to collate up-to-date and accurate local neurology data, underpinned by routine assessments of the prevalence of neurological conditions and of the number of people using neurological services locally. The report also states that all CCGs should ensure mechanisms are put in place to capture patient feedback on the quality and development of local neurology services, and that CCGs should work in partnership to identify clinical and research trial opportunities locally and support the appropriate sharing of information on such opportunities with patients.

Commenting, the Neurological Alliance’s Chief Executive, Arlene Wilkie, said: “This report must be seen as a wake-up call. For far too long, people living with neurological conditions have been ‘invisible patients’, ignored and let down by an unresponsive health and care system. Commissioners are failing to carry out vital tasks for neurology, from need and prevalence assessments to ensuring patient engagement and feedback. As a result, there is no strategic approach to improving pathways and outcomes for people with neurological conditions, and their care is suffering.

“This must change. At a time when NHS England is planning to expand CCGs’ commissioning responsibilities for neurology, it has never been more important for local commissioners to actively improve their engagement with and understanding of neurological conditions. We need urgent action now, so that the millions of people with neurological conditions receive the care they need and deserve.”

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470