People with neurological conditions are facing long waiting times, poor access to specialists and a lack of personalised care. That's according to a new report published by The Neurological Alliance. The report is based on the largest every survey of people with neurological conditions in England, with 10,339 responses. It also found failings in the social care and welfare system, as well as discrimination in the workplace for people with neurological conditions. The Neurological Alliance argues that a National Plan for Neurology in England must be urgently developed to address the failings in the system. Additionally, The Neurological Alliance is encouraging people to take action by writing to their MP about the issues raised in the report.

Accessible

Of the 10,339 respondents, 39 percent reported seeing a GP five or more times before being referred to a neurologist. Following referral, one in three patients waited more than 12 months for their appointment. The survey also found wide regional variation in waiting times. Furthermore, the longest waits are experienced by people with neurological conditions living in the most deprived areas. Access to other specialists, such as specialist nurses, physiotherapy or mental health support is also subject to postcode lotteries.

Personalised

The survey also identified the need for improved information provision when people are diagnosed. Only 43 percent of respondents said they were offered written information. A similar proportion were not signposted to places to find out further information. This can be compared to 73 percent of people with cancer who said they were given written information at the time of diagnosis. This comparison shows what is possible in terms of good care. Only 55 percent of people with neurological conditions stated that they felt involved in the decision-making for their care. This can be compared to people with cancer where the national score for feeling involved in decision-making is 78 percent. Just ten per cent of neurological survey respondents have been offered a care plan to help manage their condition.

Holistic

The survey also highlighted the acute failures of the social care system. Half of respondents say that the system is barely meeting their needs. The survey shines a light on informal carers of friends and family, who are propping up a failing system. Almost half of respondents indicated that they receive care (that they do not pay for) from a friend or family member. Respondents suggested that becoming dependent on family and friends can change relationships and people often feel themselves to be a burden. Disability discrimination continues to be widespread with over one in three respondents saying they had been discriminated against because of their neurological condition. Twenty-nine percent state that their contract of employment has been terminated because of their neurological condition.

About the survey

The National Neurology Patient Experience Survey presents a comprehensive picture of the experiences of people living with a neurological condition in England. The survey has been run biennially by The Neurological Alliance since 2014. The survey ran online and in select neurology clinics between October 2018 and March 2019. It was managed by survey company Quality Health. It received 10,339 responses. The full survey findings and methodology, along with the stories behind the data, can be read at: www.neural.org.uk/patient-experience-survey

About The Neurological Alliance

The Neurological Alliance is a coalition of 80 organisations working together to transform outcomes for the millions of people in England with a neurological condition. For more information about the survey or for a discussion about the findings, please contact [email protected] or 01923 882 590.