Neurology is still not a priority

Sue Thomas, associate editor of Primary Health Care, explains community nurses' frustration with the lack of progress on services for people with neurological conditions

The National Audit Office has published a progress review of the 2011 report 'Services for people with neurological conditions'.

It comes as no surprise to me, working in neurology commissioning support, that three years on from the call for improvements made by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee in 2012, progress has been ‘poor’ against two of four agreed recommendations, and only ‘moderate’ in the other two.

Recommendations have not been achieved in access to services, improving data and care planning.

The frustration from community nurses working with people who have long-term neurological conditions is palpable.

One nurse practitioner told me: 'Staff on the ground are aware of the changes that need to be made but there is little support to make changes. No-one is driving neurology locally, to the detriment of patients… I have been championing the cause for people with neurolocal conditions for a long time… but we have massive caseloads and are getting too tired to fight.'

Nurses know how services need to change to improve, provide better outcomes and make efficiency savings but as they say, no-one is listening. Neurology is still not a priority and this inertia is unacceptable.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) need to ‘think neuro’ and  prioritise neurological conditions as a matter of urgency for their five-year transformation plans if people with long-term neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis are to receive the care and support they need and if QIPP is to be addressed.

Crisis intervention for this group is common and costly to CCGs and, with understanding of the needs of these client groups, can be avoided.

Come on CCGs, listen to your community and specialist nurses they can assist.

About the author

Sue ThomasSue Thomas is chief executive, Commissioning Excellence, a directorate of NHiS Ltd, part of Wilmington plc, Nottingham, and associate editor of Primary Health Care

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