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GPs not confident in their ability to assess neurological conditions

15 August 2016

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Less than half of GPs are confident in their ability to properly assess people with signs of a neurological disorder.

According to a survey of 1,000 GPs from across the UK, 47% said they do not feel confident about assessing and referring people with multiple sclerosis symptoms.

In a report from the Neurological Alliance, a coalition of charities relating to neurological conditions, the survey found that 84% of GPs in England feel that they would benefit from further training on identifying people with neurological conditions.

The report, Neurology and primary care, also found that 85% of GPs were concerned about the time taken from referral for patients to see a consultant.

Arlene Wilkie, Neurological Alliance’s chief executive, said: “The polling data released today clearly shows a deeply worrying lack of confidence in the primary care pathway for people with neurological conditions.

“It is essential that NHS England and the Department of Health respond to these findings and engage with the concerns of GPs and people living with neurological conditions. Without an effective pathway through primary care, patients will continue to suffer the consequences of undue delays to referral, diagnosis and treatment, and outcomes will continue to suffer.”

In the report, the Neurological Alliance is recommending the introduction of NHS England national minimum access standards and better commissioning for value to “ensure that patients are not disadvantaged from accessing neurological service due to their geographical location”.

The report says: “CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] must ensure that they give sufficient attention to the quality and accessibility of the health and care pathway for their neurological patient populations.

“Research previously carried out by the Neurological Alliance found evidence of significant disengagement from neurology services between CCGs: responding to Freedom of Information requests, only 15% of CCGs could state how much they spent on neurology services, while only 20% had made an assessment of the number of people using neurology services in their area.”

The report adds that the sustainability and transformation plans will provide an opportunity for neurology service planning, recommending that CCGs consider the service pathway from primary to secondary care for people with neurological conditions.

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