NHS England and NHS Improvement to appoint new National Clinical Directors for neuroscience


NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) have confirmed they will appoint new National Clinical Directors (NCDs) for neurology, and neurosurgery and spinal surgery.

A long time coming

The roles are an important step in tackling the significant unwarranted variation in treatment, care and support for the 1 in 6 living with a neurological condition in England. This strengthened clinical leadership will enable people affected by neurological conditions and key neuroscience services to have even more influence at a national level, right when it matters most.

Together with evidence provided by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) reports on adult neurology, stroke and neurosurgery, and new optimum pathways across neuroscience, we have never been in a better position to bring about positive change.

The decision follows a Neurological Alliance letter to NHSE/I Medical Director Prof. Stephen Powis, supported by more than 35 organisations from across England in December, all supporting the creation of the roles.

Six years ago, the role of NCD for neurology was abolished, leaving a clear gap in clinical leadership within NHSE/I. The decision to abolish the role was widely criticised by the neurological community. The National Neuroscience Advisory Group (NNAG), GIRFT and NHSE/I Neuroscience Clinical Reference Group (CRG) have all played an important advisory role during this period, maintaining a key national neuro voice, including throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABN and The Neurological Alliance welcome the announcement

Georgina Carr, Chief Executive of The Neurological Alliance said:

“We wholeheartedly welcome the appointments, representing an increased recognition within NHS England and NHS Improvement of the need to prioritise services for people with neurological conditions. We, together with 35 organisations across the country, called for renewed clinical leadership for neuroscience in the NHS and that call has been heard.

The challenges for our forthcoming NCDs are not insignificant – more than 181,000 people are waiting for a neurology appointment in March 2022. More than 3,000 have waited more than a year. With waiting lists at an all-time high and with many of the workforce burnt out, the appointments are an important milestone in transforming care.

We now urge NHS England and NHS Improvement to give the NCDs the resources they need to truly tackle unwarranted variation, and work with us to ensure people with neurological conditions are at the heart of that transformation.”

Professor Tom Warner, President of the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) said:

“This is a vital development to deliver the transformation of care that people with neurological conditions need. The appointment of a Neurology NCD, along with those in allied clinical neurosciences, create an important opportunity for a joined up landscape providing timely and equitable services.

The NCD roles should also be fully supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement to address the workforce issues that have led to long waits for assessment and treatment, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will then ensure we are on the “front-foot” in providing world class neurological care.”

Applications for the roles are open until 6 July. For further information and how to apply, click here.