Neurology Network Managers Meeting: conference overview

Event reports
17 Jun 2022

On 27th May, 60 healthcare professionals spanning commissioning, management, clinical work and the voluntary sector gathered to hone their understanding of neurology commissioning. Just over two thirds attended virtually, whilst the remaining delegates and the majority of the speakers met together at Halifax Hall, Sheffield, to take advantage of additional networking opportunities.

Friday’s meeting was opened by faculty members Georgina Carr, CEO of the Neurological Alliance, Julie Riley, Deputy Director of Strategy at the Walton Centre, and Sue Thomas, independent consultant who gave a brief introduction to the priorities currently facing neurology (table 1).

Julie noted that, since the last meeting and due to popular request, two practical interactive workshops on business planning have been held and were both well received: one for headache services and one for MS services.

Table 1: Neurological Alliance: the current priorities for neurology

Neurological Alliance: priorities for neurology 2022
1. With the significant disruption of neurological services due to COVID-19, there is currently no representation for neurology as part of NHSE/I elective recovery plans
2. There are growing challenges for treatment and services due to backlogs
3. Increasing the level of support for mental health and wellbeing of people with neurological conditions
4. Health inequalities, which haven gotten worse during the pandemic

Professor of Neurology Adrian Williams, practising neurologist, NHS England Chair, and Neurosciences CRG, provided a very short overview of the network itself by way of welcome before the meeting began in earnest.

Clinical Director and CCIO of the Walton Centre, Dr Martin Wilson, highlighted the transformation agenda that is being taken forward following on from the GIRFT neurology specialty report and delegates were delighted to hear a great deal of - as yet - unpublished information.

The next session was led by commissioner Jane Williams from NHS Guildford and Waverley CCG who gave a practical overview of developing a template specification for Huntington’s services, drawing on experience from her own area.

The last session before lunch was highly topical given the new guidance just published and pathway anticipated for bladder management in MS. Jane Young, a London-based Bladder and bowel nurse consultant presented the case for commissioning services for the neurogenic bladder.

After lunch, Dr Chrissie Burness gave an overview of the functional neurological disorder (FND) service that they have initiated at the Walton Centre, and together with Julie Riley, gave strong evidence around the impact their psychotherapy approach has had on individuals with the disorder.

Rob Sloan followed this with an overview of recent research carried out by Shift.MS into The future of MS clinical care ( which they have presented as a white paper. The 2021 survey which went live for 2 weeks over social media platforms via Shift.MS and to an international audience and over 2,000 members of the MS community captured the preferences of people with MS regarding their future clinical care.

A potted journey of becoming a site to provide nusinersen to people with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)followed, with Derek Weidner, Lead Neurology Pharmacist. Beginning with some background to SMA and the main treatment options available pharmaceutically - the intrathecally-delivered nusinersen and orally-given risdeplam - he shared practical insights from his locality over steps taken and hurdles encountered in becoming one of the twelve sites able to provide nusinersen.

The final session of the day was delivered by consultant nurse for the epilepsies Phil Tittensor and Caryn Jory, Epilepsy specialist nurse, who shared a potted summary of the impact of epilepsy at a national level and the essentials to epilepsy services and support, with background to optimising the care pathway and practical shared experience of implementing this at a local level.

In-depth summaries of each session will be available on a weekly basis for those unable to attend or hoping to revisit some of the key elements covered.

Meet with strategic and operational colleagues in neurology

Join us for the Neurology Manager Network Meeting which will enable senior managers and directors in neurology services to update their knowledge on current neurology service delivery.