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13 May 2016

Epilepsy Society disappointed at Government failure to prioritise neurology services

Epilepsy Society has expressed its disappointment at the Government's failure to prioritise services for people with neurological conditions, including epilepsy, over the next year. 

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC)report had made it clear that NHS services for people with neurological conditions 'are not consistently good enough.'

In its Treasury Minutes from last month, the Department of Health rejected several key recommendations by the PAC including calls to retain the position of the national clinical director for neurological conditions and to deliver a personalised care plan for everyone living with a long-term health condition.

No positive impact for people with epilepsy

Epilepsy Society's chief executive David Marshall, said: 'We are disappointed to see the Government’s admission that NHS England will not be prioritising services for people with neurological conditions over the next year.

'The choice not to retain the national clinical director  for adult neurology, and the removal of the objective that everyone with a long-term condition be offered a personalised care plan are decisions that will not make a positive impact on the lives of people with epilepsy and other neurological conditions at a time when it is vital progress is being made.'

Positive response

However David Marshall welcomed the Department of Health's decision to accept new commissioning for value data packs which could help clinical commissioning groups recognise and address poor outcomes for people with epilepsy in their areas.

The department has also accepted recommendations to reduce variations in access to neurologists and to give clarification to commissioning responsibilities for neurology.

Neurological Alliance

There are over 12 million people in England with neurological conditions. The Neurological Alliance represents the voices of 80 organisations working to improve the lives of those people.

In a statement it said the Government's response meant that neurology services would continue to lag behind other areas in standards and patient outcomes.

It said there is considerable evidence that neurology services suffer from a number of serious issues, including enormous regional variation in access to services and widespread disengagement by local commissioners patients variations report.

Avoiding responsibility

Arlene Wilkie, chief executive of the Neurological Alliance, said: 'Once again, the Government has sent a message that the needs of people with neurological conditions are simply not important enough to focus on.

'Rather than accepting the criticisms of the Public Accounts Committee, both the Department of Health and NHS England have attempted to deflect blame and evade responsibility. There can be no justification for discontinuing national clinical leadership for neurology when so many patients are not receiving the essential treatment, care and support services that they require.'

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