Campaigning activity supporting clinical leadership for neurology services (2016)

The Neurological Alliance and the wider neurological community is campaigning for ongoing clinical leadership for neurology services, following NHS England’s decision not to retain the position of National Clinical Director for Adult Neurology beyond March 2016, and to cease national funding for neurology clinical networks.

A briefing setting out the background and importance of these functions is available to read and download here.

The neurological community as a whole has expressed its clear support for expert neurological clinical leadership:

  • In January 2016, Neurological Alliance members wrote jointly to Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State for Health. The letter explains the importance of national clinical leadership for neurology and calls on the Secretary of State to raise the issue with NHS England in order to find a solution. The letter is available to read here.
  • In addition, a joint letter from the Neurological Alliance and its members on this issue was published in The Times newspaper on January 31st. The letter is available online here and as a PDF here.
  • In February, chairs of all-party parliamentary groups relevant to neurology also wrote to the Secretary of State for Health in support of the continuation of the NCD role. The letter is available to read here.
  • In addition, a wide range of representatives of clinical and patient professional organisations with an interest in neurology wrote jointly to the Secretary of State in February on the issue. The letter is available to read here.

Please see here for a response from Ben Gummer MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health).

These letters were supported by a number of parliamentary questions on the issue in February and March 2016. The questions and their responses are available on the parliament website via the following links: 29133 ; 27966 ; 27532 ; 27534 ; HL6082 ; 26275 ; 25394

In our view, these responses do not provide sufficient assurance about the level of clinical leadership and advice for neurology services going forward. This view was supported by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which made a clear recommendation to NHS England to retain the National Clinical Director role in its recent progress review of neurology services. We await NHS England’s response to this recommendation.

Next steps

  • The Neurological Alliance and the Association of British Neurologists will meet with NHS England in April to seek clarification and assurance on the future of clinical leadership for neurology.
  • We are currently discussing follow-up questions and other parliamentary activities with supportive parliamentarians.
  • We will continue to press NHS England for clear proposals to assure ongoing clinical leadership and will keep members updated on any developments.

Arlene Wilkie, chief executive of the Neurological Alliance, said: “NHS England’s decision to cut the role of National Clinical Director is a backward step for neurology services and a real blow to patients and families. The millions of people living with neurological conditions must not be treated as an afterthought. NHS England must listen to the voices of patients and think again.”

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