Care for neurological conditions in 'a bit of a state'

Thumb_lawrence-mcginty

There is one group of MPs who regularly get up the government's nose. The all-party Public Accounts Committee.

The committee looks at where taxpayers' money is spent and whether it's spent wisely
The committee looks at where taxpayers' money is spent and whether it's spent wisely Credit: Reuters

Today, they have dug into care for 2 million people with neurological conditions like Parkinson's, Motor Neurone Disease and MS.

And it's in a bit of a state.

In 2005, the government published a master plan, as it did for cancer and stroke.

Individual care 'poorly coordinated' and quality of service 'depends on where you live'
Individual care 'poorly coordinated' and quality of service 'depends on where you live' Credit: Reuters

The Public Accounts Committee says baldly it has "not worked".

  • Spending has gone up by 38% to nearly £3 billion
  • There is a postcode lottery for vital services like physiotherapy and speech therapy
  • Spending on social services for these patients is £2.5 billion
  • But "co-ordination of care... is poor"

These failings show up in the figures. For example, a 32% increase in emergency admissions, well above the rate for the NHS as a whole.

Why? Because, the committee says, the government left it to local bodies to implement the 'Master Plan'.

Unlike cancer they didn't create a "Czar" to push the plan through.

They didn't monitor what local bodies did and didn't hold them to account. All this has an importance that goes far beyond this area of healthcare.

Because "localisation" is just what the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley wants to do to the NHS as a whole.

This report is a warning of what could happen if they get it wrong once the Health Bill passes through parliament.