15th August 2016

Neurology and primary care report

A new report by the Neurological Alliance shows that GPs in England are not confident in the quality of services for people with neurological conditions

A new report published by the Neurological Alliance has found that GPs in England lack confidence in the primary care pathway for people with neurological conditions. New polling of GPs across the country shows low levels of confidence in the ability of local services and systems to manage neurology patients effectively, and widespread concern over unnecessary delays. It also suggests that GPs feel they would benefit from more support to manage people presenting with suspected neurological symptoms.

The Neurology and Primary Care report presents the results of a survey of 1,001 regionally representative GPs from across the UK (England, n=831) and an expert workshop convened in December 2015. The report focuses primarily on England but additional UK-wide findings are included in the appendix. The report finds that:

  • 85% (n=708) of GPS in England are either ‘somewhat concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about the time taken from referral for patients to see a consultant neurologist.
  • 59% (n=492) of GPs believe that the local services and systems in place in their area mean that people with neurological conditions frequently do not receive a timely diagnosis.
  • The large majority of GPs in England (84%, n=701) feel that they could benefit from further training on identifying and managing people presenting with neurological conditions.
  • Fewer than half of GPs (47%, n=392) felt confident in their ability to make an initial assessment and referral for people presenting with signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

The report also sets out eight recommendations aimed at improving the primary care pathway for people with neurological conditions, including a call for the development of a pan-neurological ‘watch list’ of the ten signs and symptoms GPs should be aware of during patient interactions in primary care settings.

Arlene Wilkie, CEO of the Neurological Alliance, said:

“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.”

Hannah Verghese, Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns Manager at The Migraine Trust said:

“Despite experts agreeing that 97% of headache and migraine cases can be wholly managed by GPs they still account for a third of all new referrals to neurology.  More must be done to strengthen the delivery of headache and migraine care for patients at primary care level.  This is where the biggest opportunities for addressing the burden of these neurological conditions exist.”

Other news