22 November 2018

Professor Stephen Powis addresses Neurological Alliance members’ meeting

Two revolutions in the health service

The Neurological Alliance was delighted to welcome Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England as the key note speaker, at our annual members’ meeting on 21 November. In his talk, he set out how he saw the NHS changing over the next ten years. In particular Professor Powis referred to ‘two revolutions’ that will fundamentally alter the health service – the genetic revolution and the digital revolution. The 100,000 genome project, which has now been extended to sequence the next 1 million genomes, includes rare neurological conditions. Professor Powis spoke about how it is possible to imagine that genome sequencing will become part of routine care, meaning the risk of disease – and many neurological conditions – could be better understood. He was speaking alongside Professor Adrian Williams who also noted how digital innovations would support improved neurological care. Examples include digital care planning and wearable technology to better manage conditions.

Professor Powis’ challenge for the neurological community

Before Christmas, NHS England will publish its long term plan for the NHS, setting out how it will spend the 3.4% increase in the health service budget. The basis for this plan is a focus on the areas of health care where England lags behind international competitors.In terms of specific reference to neurological conditions, this includes earlier diagnosis of brain tumour as part of a wider cancer priority, better detection of those at risk of stroke, and tackling childhood mortality – including premature epilepsy deaths. More broadly the long term plan will consider how the system can better support frail elderly people and people with long term conditions. Person centred care will also be an important area of focus. Professor Powis challenged the Neurological Alliance to look at how we can use the long term plan to progress the various agendas we have been working on.

The long term plan will also continue the trend away from competitiveness as a driver in the health service, towards a more integrated approach to health care. He spoke of the need to spread the ‘shining examples’ of integrated care that exist in pockets of the country.

Translating data into improved patient outcomes

Delegates also heard from Dr Bruce Pollington at NHS RightCare and Cam Lugton from Public Health England’s Neurology Intelligence Network about their work on neurological data. Dr Martin James from The Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme also presented at the meeting, highlighting how this important stroke data set has supported improvements in stroke care.

The meeting of over fifty neurological charity leaders, as well as representatives from professional bodies and the pharmaceutical industry, provided an opportunity for the sector to call for better collection of neurological data. This is critical to enabling the improvements in care that people with neurological conditions need and deserve. In particular there was consensus on the need to collect better data about outpatient neurology. This is a project the Neurology Intelligence Collaborative has committed to prioritise.

The Neurological Alliance’s work to improve data and intelligence

Improving the collection and use of data is a key priority for The Neurological Alliance. Our new website hosts the work of the new Neurology Intelligence Collaborative and also includes a searchable neurological resource library. This resource library provides a hub for all data, intelligence and information that is published about neurosciences.

In parallel we are currently running our third biennial patient experience survey. This aims to fill a gap in health system knowledge. Our previous two surveys have painted a detailed picture of the health service, as experienced by people with neurological conditions. You can read more about our patient experience survey in this week’s blog.