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Batten Disease Family Association welcomes Neurological Alliance’s five calls to action for prioritising neurological services

The Neurological Alliance has today launched a new report, Going the distance: National calls to action to drive neurological service improvement in England, taking a critical look at how neurology is represented in the health and social care quality improvement system.

It is now two years since the Public Accounts Committee’s report on services for people with neurological conditions, which highlighted a profound lack of accountability for neurology services at all levels of the health and care system to the detriment of patient outcomes, quality of care and value for money. With a National Audit Office progress review on neurological services anticipated later in 2014, this report provides a timely overview of neurology’s place within the new system of incentives, accountability and quality measures introduced under the NHS reform programme.

While recognising the major developments that have taken place recently for neurology, including the establishment of a strategic clinical network for neurological conditions, Dr David Bateman’s appointment as the National Clinical Director for neurological conditions and the launch of the first neurological minimum dataset, Going the distance identifies five key tests to assess whether, behind these headline initiatives, progress is on track to create the conditions for a successful national neurological service improvement drive. The tests are:

1.  Neurological conditions are proportionately prioritised at a national level;

2.  Neurological services are explicitly represented in the nationally set health and social care accountability frameworks;

3.  NICE quality standards, clinical guidelines and support for commissioners have been developed covering the range and breadth of neurological conditions;

4.  There are nationally collated, reliable, consistent and useful data on all neurological conditions, services and outcomes;

5.  Improvements to neurological services are being incentivised through provider payment and incentive schemes.

In awarding a star rating for the performance against each test, Going the distance finds that currently, the health and social care system is far from meeting the grade on any. To ensure that the Government and the health and social care system can report full marks against each test by this time next year, we have issued a series of national calls to action, which, if adopted, we believe will give direction to, and guarantee accountability for the urgent neurological service improvement drive called for by the neurological community, the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee.

Commenting on the report, the Neurological Alliance’s Chief Executive, Arlene Wilkie, said:

“Neurology is at a crossroads. There have been some hugely positive developments in recent years, including the establishment of a strategic clinical network, the appointment of a National Clinical Director and launch of the first neurological dataset. But these initiatives, hard won by the neurological community, will not alone deliver what people with neurological conditions urgently need – real change that lifts services up to the standard we would expect for people with other life changing conditions.

“Our report shows that, behind the scenes, neurology still has a long way to go. We need the Government and national NHS bodies to knuckle down and go the distance on neurological service improvement. By building on the solid foundations that they have put in place over the past two years, we are confident that real change can happen.”

Batten Disease Family Association fully supports the Neurological Alliance in its ambitions, and we welcome Going the distance as an important tool in driving neurological service improvements within the health and social care landscape.

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