Startling new figures released this week highlight that more than one in every six people is living with one or more neurological conditions in the UK yet, despite this growing tide of need, the NHS is yet to respond in equal measure.The Neurological Alliance, the voice of over 80 UK organisations supporting people living with a neurological condition, released their latest publication: ‘Neuro Numbers’ at the start of this year’s Brain Awareness Week. With 14.7 million people living with a neurological condition, neurological services and support should be a priority area for the NHS, but it is conspicuously absent in the recently released Long Term Plan, where only dementia gets a nod of acknowledgement.The Neurological Alliance revealed that, despite an average of over 75,000 neurological cases per clinical commissioning group (CCG), the localised body responsible for the planning and purchasing of services, only 35 out of 195 CCGs include neurology amongst their delivery plans.
‘What is needed is increased awareness of neurological conditions among those responsible for planning services,’ said Alliance CEO Sarah Vibert.
As well as giving the latest prevalence estimates for neurological conditions, Neuro Numbers brings all the latest pan-neurological data available for England together in one place. The data shows that, in the past 5 years, there has been a 24% increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with a neurological condition. The number of bed days has also increased during this time period, rising by 8%, whilst the average length of stay is almost 3 days longer than average if the person has a neurological condition.Katharine McIntosh, Senior Policy Advisor from the Neurological Alliance said, “the system needs to act now to address the issues the data is flagging.’ Highlighting mortality data, Katherine noted, ‘A year ago, it was shown that deaths from neurological conditions are 35% more likely to be premature. We know that many of these deaths are potentially avoidable with better care... We are yet to see concerted action to tackle avoidable deaths related to neurological conditions.’The Neurological Alliance is proposing national incentives be introduced for local and regional decision makers to tackle unwarranted variation in neurological care, based on the opportunities for improvement demonstrated by local-level data. This sits well alongside the aims of the Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) programme which, led by Dr Geraint Fuller, is expected to report on neurology this summer. GIRFT will also be sharing localised neurological data around the country this year to raise awareness and understanding of local practices and encourage action to improve quality of care.To find out more, read Neuro Numbers 2019, visit the GIRFT programme’s website, or learn more about our own national project tackling variance in multiple sclerosis (MS) services.
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