Neurological emergencies up by a third as patient care worsens, study finds
Emergency hospital admissions for conditions such as Parkinson”s and multiple sclerosis up by a third
Trend developed despite extra investment
According to a report emergency hospital admissions for neurological conditions have risen by around a third
The number of people suffering from neurological disorders has increased, despite extra spending a report has shown.
According to the National Audit Office (NAO) emergency hospital admissions for conditions such as Parkinson”s, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone diseases have risen by around a third.
It also revealed patient care has “worsened” recommending that the Department of Health needs to implement more effective strategies to remedy the situation.
The quality of care, coordination of health and social services, variability in access to services around the country, and poor budget control have have been cited as key areas of concern.
Between 2006/07 (2.1 billion) and 2009/10 (2.9 billion) there was a 38 per cent increase in spending on neurological services with an estimated 2.4 billion spent on social services associated with such conditions.
However extra money was never ring-fenced in local health budgets and the Department of Health is unable to say how the increased spend has benefited services.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “Services for people with long-term neurological conditions are not as good as they ought to be, despite a large increasein spending.
“Progress in implementing the Department”s strategy has been poor and local organisations lack incentives to improve the quality of services.
“It is not clear how lessons will be learnt and there are risks to services which the Department must addressto ensure that care improves.”
The report revealed that patients admitted as anemergency are often treated by doctors and nurses with no neurological training.
One study found that only 66 per cent of people with Parkinson”s disease were seen by a specialist within six weeks of referral by their GP, despite national guidelines on the issue.
Evidence suggests this can lead to poorer outcomes as many have to be referred to hospital, discharged and referred again.
The report revealed that patients admitted as an emergency are often treated by doctors and nurses with no neurological training
Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson”s UK, said: “Being admitted into hospital unnecessarily can cause problems for people with Parkinson”s because they often do not gettheir medication on time.
“Late or missed medication can make their symptoms unmanageable so they have to stay in hospital longer and sometimes they may never recover.”
The report also criticised the management of a national framework for neurology introduced in 2005, saying the Department of Health “put in place no specific arrangements for monitoring how commissioners implemented” it.
In response to the findings, which support a previous audit from the MS Trust and Royal College of Physicians, minister of state for care services Paul Burstow reassured that new strategies are in the pipeline.
“We are determined to give people with long-term health conditionsmore control over their care and support.
“That is why we are developing a new outcomes strategy, piloting personal health budgets and rolling out telehealth to deliver better results for people and make sound use of NHS resources.”
The NAO has called for the Department of Health and NHS commissioners to implement a future strategy for long-term conditions focusing on better coordination of services and improved motoring to ensure budgets are being used effectively.
The report did note access to services have improved along with shorter waiting times.
It is estimated around two million people have a neurological condition in the UK.