Friday 20 January 2012
During a PAC (Public Accounts Committee :Department of Health, NHS, Kings College Hospital) meeting on services for people with neurological conditions MPs were told that neurology had not been a priority area for recent previous governments. Part of the reason for this was that previous governments had focused on saving lives by tackling other conditions with high mortality rates.
The Department of Health was setting up annual surveys the results of which would form a base-line for measuring the performance of neurology services with a view to using patients’ experiences as the basis for informing future decisions on neurology.
The Committee heard from:
- Una O’Brien, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health
- Sir David Nicholson KCB CBE, Chief Executive of the NHS in England;
- Dr Chris Clough, Consultant Neurologist, Kings College Hospital and Chair, National Clinical Advisory Team
The following sections were discussed:
- Improving neurology services:
Committee Chair and Labour MP Margaret Hodge questioned if many neurological services were not fit for purpose as a result of the inefficient and poorly monitored use of public funds.
Measuring value for money of neurology services was more difficult according to Sir David but the ten year plan for neurology had begun in 2005 and once the plan had come to an end judgements could be made on whether it had represented value for money.
Ms Mactaggart suggested that the changes to the NHS would make it harder for patients with neurological conditions to find and access the appropriate part of the NHS.
Labour MP Nick Smith wanted to know how the data obtained through GP surveys would lead to improved outcomes for patients with neurological conditions.
Labour MP Meg Hillier asked what was being done to look at neurology services being provided at the local level as for many patients this was a big part of their on-going community care.
Sir David asserted that the data published in the National Audit Office report greatly differed from the information that had been gathered by the NHS which suggested that over eighty per cent of people with long-term conditions had personal care plans.
Ms Doyle-Price queried if neurology was given a sufficiently high priority by all primary care trusts or whether there was inconsistently the application of prioritisation.