A new NHS initiative will aim to ensure faster diagnosis for people with brain and nerve conditions and reduce hundreds of emergency admissions a year.
The NHS and seven charities have produced a toolkit to help local services improve care for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Parkinson’s.
Experts hope it will avoid up to 2,500 emergency admissions to hospital each year and save up to £10 million which can be reinvested into the health care system.
The toolkit will recommend rolling out fast-tracked blood tests and consultant appointments over Skype.
Dawn Chamberlain, programme director in clinical improvement at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This is an opportunity for the NHS to work directly with patients and their families to deliver better care closer to home for the thousands of people with progressive neurological conditions.
“As they work with staff, patients and stakeholders to implement the NHS Long Term Plan, this toolkit provides the information local health leaders need to understand how to deliver high-quality neurology services.
“Many areas are already providing high-quality care in line with best practice, and by supporting others to come up to the same standard, we can deliver faster, more joined-up and better care for thousands more people – supporting them to stay well in their own homes.”
It will be directed at Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them deliver faster diagnosis and treatment for progressive neurological conditions and improve access to specialist physical and mental health care.
It aims to help people with the conditions to better manage their symptoms at home and be more active in making decisions over their treatment.
Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “For too long, services have neglected progressive neurological conditions. This is as dangerous as it is unjust, putting people at higher risk simply because of the kind of condition they have.
“We are urging all Clinical Commissioning Groups to work with charities and implement the new toolkit, so they can make the changes so desperately needed to reduce hospital admissions and unlock these vital cost savings.”
Claire Plackett, from Croydon, south London, waited 17 years for her MS to be correctly diagnosed.
The 54-year-old is now being treated at St George’s University Hospitals’ MS service in south-west London, lauded in the new toolkit as an example of good practice.
She said: “I have blood tests once every three months to check my medicine is working, but in the past always had to join the general queue. It would take hours and hours, and was physically very draining.
“But now two days a week there’s an MS phlebotomist there taking blood just for MS patients. The service is incredibly important to me because it makes life so much easier.”
The Progressive Neurological Conditions Toolkit was created with the NHS RightCare team and Parkinson’s UK, MS Society, MS Trust, MND Association, Sue Ryder, MSA Trust and PSP Association.