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New neurology network is good news for epilepsy
New NHS plans could mark a critical turning point in the provision of health services for people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
For the first time ever neurology has been recognised as a key health priority within the NHS with the announcement of a Strategic Clinical Network (SCN) dedicated to neurological conditions including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, mental health and dementia.
The news has been welcomed by the charity consortium, Neurological Alliance as the single most important development for neurology under the new health and social care system, with the potential to play a crucial role in the future of neurological care.
Arlene Wilkie, chief executive of the Neurological Alliance said: ‘This is absolutely fantastic news which will ensure that there will be NHS funded and administered networks across England dedicated to enhancing services for all people with neurological conditions.
‘Since clinical networks were confirmed last summer as a core element of the reformed NHS, we have recognised their potential to address the key challenges neurology faces, from delayed diagnosis to lack of service integration. We have championed the need for neurology clinical networks.
‘It is a credit to the neurological community’s tireless work and campaigning that we have been allocated one of only four SCNs.’
The other three networks cover cancer, maternity and children’s services and cardiovascular disease.
Neurological Alliance represents more than 70 charities including Epilepsy Society. Chief executive of the leading medical charity expressed his delight at the Government announcement. ‘These clinical networks will focus on the main health priorities for the Government and are intended to bring about significant and lasting change. An SCN for neurology offers the very real prospect of improvements in health services for people with epilepsy.’
The news comes as the Alliance published a report accusing the NHS of not taking patients with neurological conditions seriously enough. Problems highlighted include high numbers of neurological patients being admitted to hospital as emergency, delays in diagnosis and poor provision of information.
Neurological services account for five per cent of overall NHS spending but the Alliance highlights an unfair postcode lottery when it comes to expenditure. In some areas such as central Lancashire, £10m is spent on neurology per 100,000 people. In Haringey, that figure drops to £4m per 100,000 people.
The report encourages the new NHS bodies being created by next April under the Health and Social Care Act to address ‘the legacy of neglect which has resulted in unacceptable variations in outcomes and higher than necessary costs.’