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Number of patients waiting over a year for a neurology appointment has risen by 9000%

Neurology | July 8, 2022

Around 1 in 6 people in the UK, live with a neurological condition and an estimated 600,000 are diagnosed with a neurological condition each year. Without timely access to specialist services, many have been left unable to get a diagnosis and treatment.

The impact of the pandemic on people with neurological conditions has been enormous, and waiting times are clear indication of that. Thousands of people are being left in the dark waiting for support, whilst their condition may be changing or even progressing.

Analysis of NHS data carried out by the Neurological Alliance – a coalition of more than 80 organisations including the MS SocietyParkinson’s UK and MND Association showed, that the number of people waiting over a year for a neurology and neurosurgery appointment has risen by 9000% in just last 13 months.

Since the onset of pandemic, people with neurological conditions had been directly impacted across all areas of life, including their access to neurology and other health and social care services. The reallocation of already over-stretched resources during the pandemics away from neurology to respond to the needs of Covid wards and Long covid care increased already existing gaps and variations in the care provided. Furthermore, there has been an increasing number of long-Covid patients requiring neurological care.

Many NHS organisations reported a neurology workforce crisis. Compared to other high income EU countries UK has fever neurologists. For neurology consultants involved in patient care, there is one consultant per 91,175 population (1.1 per 100,000) in the UK. This is less compared to similar high-income European countries such as France and Germany which both had one consultant per less than 25,000 population. The Association of British Neurologists said, this impacts on the quality of care provided to patients with neurological conditions in the UK, not having timely access to consultant neurologists.

A significant geographical variation existed in the number of neurology consultants throughout the UK, with the greatest number of consultants being based in London and the south-east and rural regions like Cumbria suffering most.

Many healthcare professionals are overstretched and need support themselves. This is just the tip of the iceberg – the long impact of delays and disruptions to care will be felt for years to come.