12th March 2018

Brain Awareness Week 2018

About Brain Awareness Week

Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign to increase awareness of progress in brain research, as well as progress in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the brain.

During Brain Awareness Week 2018 there are events taking place across the UK.

The Neurological Alliance, together with the Brain & Spine Foundation, is using Brain Awareness Week 2018 to raise awareness of neurological disorders, and the rising death toll associated with these conditions. To join in with our digital campaign please see our Brain Awareness Week Media Kit.

About neurological conditions

Neurological conditions are disorders of the brain, spinal cord or nerves. They can have a range of causes including genetic factors, traumatic injury and infection. The causes of some of these conditions are still not well understood.

There are a large number of neurological conditions. Some are very common, such as dementia, stroke, epilepsy, and migraine. Others are comparatively rare, such as ataxia, Guillain-Barré syndrome, or myasthenia gravis. In between is a wide range of conditions including traumatic brain injury, Tourette’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

The total number of neurological cases in England is estimated to have reached 12.5 million.

Neurological deaths are increasing

A new report by Public Health England on deaths associated with neurological conditions has revealed a shocking increase in mortality rates. More people than ever are dying from a neurological condition in England:

  • 39% increase in neurological deaths in England from 2001-2014, compared to a 6% decrease in all-cause deaths.
  • 13% increase in neurological deaths after accounting for population changes, compared to a 18% decrease in all-cause deaths

The report also revealed a disturbing illustration of health inequalities: deaths from epilepsy in the most deprived areas are nearly three-times more likely than in the least deprived areas.

The rising death rate may reflect a number of factors. We believe it is partly due to the lack of prioritisation of neurological conditions in the NHS.

Our calls for improvement

The Neurological Alliance and partner organisations are calling for neurology to be prioritised throughout the NHS. We want:

  • Better inclusion of neurology in national accountability and incentive frameworks (such as the NHS Mandate)
  • Better collection and availability of data with which to understand variation and measure progress
  • Greater commissioner engagement at regional and local level
  • Better training and support for non-neurological specialists

For more details on our national calls to action to improve neurology services in England, please see our report Going the Distance 2: National calls to action to improve neurology services in England.