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MPs told of long wait for neurology patients

12 March, 2001

MPs have been told of the recent research highlighting the delays that people with neurological conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease are experiencing waiting to be seen by a neurologist.

In the light of the announcement last week by the Governement of the setting up of a new National Service Framework for treating people with long-term health conditions, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Paul Burstow, spoke on his recent report.

The Association of British Neurologists recommends that all patients with neurological emergencies should see a neurologist within 24 hours of being admitted. However, the research revealed that only 14 per cent of hospitals surveyed were providing this level of care.

The report also highlighted that while 20 per cent of admissions to medical wards were acute neurological patients, the UK only had 6 neurologists per million population, compared to 40 per million in the USA, 71 in Italy and 100 in Denmark.

Mr Burstow told MPs:

"Neurology has been something of a Cinderella service in the national health service--in part because until recently little could be done beyond diagnosis and amelioration of symptoms.

"However, that is changing, so now is a good time to have a debate ... and to turn the spotlight on neurological services with the aim of raising them to the standard of the very best NHS services. We need to improve the standard of excellence in neurology across the whole country, so that everyone has access to good quality services on a level playing field."