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Lack of specialists delaying diagnosis

25 June, 2001

A shortage of neurologists and scanning equipment in the UK is causing severe delays for people suspected of having epilepsy and other brain conditions, according doctors speaking this week at the World Congress of Neurology in London.

Britain has about 350 neurologists, or one for every 164,000 people, compared to one for every 26,000 in the USA and one for every 39,000 in France.

Professor Christopher Kennard, consultant neurologist at Charing Cross Hospital in London told "we need 650 neurologists in the United Kingdom", adding that although the number of doctors specialising in neurology is increasing it was still not enough to cope with the rising numbers of people with neurological conditions.

The President of the World Congress, Ian McDonald, told delegates that decades of under-investing in neurology combined with a lack of interest from the medical profession had contributed to the problem.

"Up to 20 years ago little could be done to treat neurological disease so it attracted a smaller proportion of doctors", said Dr McDonald.