A new report from the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) has revealed that one in five UK hospitals only have access to neurologists on three or fewer days per week.
This is the second survey from the ABN into acute neurological services (first survey published in December 2014). It shows that the likelihood of a patient with a neurological problem being seen by a neurologist continues to vary dramatically depending on where they are admitted
The report shows:
- 20% of hospitals surveyed had access to a neurologist on three days or fewer/week.
- Six hospitals had no acute neurology service at all.
- 93% of neuroscience centres provided a seven day ward consultation service.
- 26% of district general hospitals provided a ward consultation service on three or fewer days per week.
- 89% of neuroscience centres have access to 24/7 MRI, 72% of district general hospitals do not.
According to the ABN, It is vital that such national variations in care be addressed urgently and in a properly funded manner.
Diseases of the brain and nervous system are common and account for between 10 and 20% of acute medical admissions. Stroke, blackouts including epileptic seizures, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, acute paralysis, brain haemorrhage, among other conditions, may all lead to an emergency hospital admission.
The ABN welcomes the proposal, currently being considered by NHS England, for a National Strategy for Neurology. It recognises the strength of the existing National Strategy for Stroke and supports the development of a similar strategy for acute neurology in all parts of the United Kingdom.
The report reinforces the recommendations from the ABN’s Quality Standard for Unscheduled Care.
Professor Phil Smith, president of the ABN, said: “Greater specialist involvement in acute neurological presentations is likely to improve patient outcomes and to limit unnecessary admissions. Neurologists’ increasing involvement in the acute assessment and management of stroke is already helping to optimise services in this important field. We look towards a future where people presenting with acute neurological conditions have prompt and appropriate access to specialist neurological assessment and care.”
Professor Jane Dacre, president of Royal College of Physicians, London, added: “Patients with acute and undiagnosed neurological problems are a source of great anxiety and concern to physicians. This report outlines the scale and scope of the difficulties, and the difference that can be made by neurologists. Greater clinical support from the neurology team will help improve the quality and efficiency of the care of these very sick patients. The RCP congratulates the ABN on this important contribution, which is likely to play a significant part in improving care.”