About neurological conditions

Key neurology facts

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 very common and some are comparatively rare.

Neurological conditions can be grouped into four types:

  • Sudden onset – includes stroke, traumatic brain or spinal injury, meningitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Intermittent – includes epilepsy, migraine, cavernoma
  • Progressive – includes Parkinson’s disease, dementia, motor neurone disease, ataxia
  • Stable with changing needs – includes Tourette syndrome, narcolepsy, fibromyalgia, transverse myelitis

Having a neurological condition can have a huge impact on an individual’s day to day life

Our 2016 patient experience survey found that 71% of patients experience moderate, severe or extreme pain or discomfort; 70% are restricted in their activities frequently, most or all of the time (see our Falling Short report). For people with intermittent neurological conditions, such as epilepsy or migraine, the unpredictability of their condition can also have a huge impact on their day to day life.

The number of neurological cases is rising and will continue to increase

According to the latest estimates, the total number of neurological cases in England has now reached 12.5 million, or an average of 59,000 cases per Clinical Commissioning Group (Neuro Numbers 2014).

This is due in part to advances in neonatal healthcare meaning more children with neurological conditions survive beyond birth and into adulthood. More significant however is the impact of an ageing population. More significant however is the impact of an ageing population. This is highlighted by Public Health England’s 2018 Neurology Mortality reports which show that number of deaths in England relating to neurological disorders rose by 39% over 13 years, while deaths in the general population fell by 6% over the same period.

Neurological conditions cause a significant amount of NHS activity and spend

  • There were 1,512,931 hospital admissions with a mention of neurology, stroke or dementia in 2014/15. This is a 14% increase from 2012/13 (Hospital Activity Compendium).
  • There were 928,867 emergency admissions with a mention of neurology, stroke or dementia in 2014/15. This is a 12% increase from 2012/13 (Hospital Activity Compendium).
  • Neurological conditions (including stroke and dementia) accounted for 12,138,872 bed days in 2014/15 (Hospital Activity Compendium).
  • If all CCGs were to achieve the neurological admission rates of their best demographically similar peers, a 10% saving (£50 million) could be achieved (The long term plan for the NHS – getting it right for neurology patients).
  • NHS expenditure on neurological conditions alone amounted to £4.4 billion in 2012/13, which represents an expenditure increase of 200% since 2003 (Neuro Numbers 2014).
  • Social care expenditure on care services for people with a neurological condition amounted to approximately £2.4 billion in 2013 – nearly 14% of adult social care spend (Neuro Numbers 2014).