• Neurological Alliance warns NHS England against “removal or demotion” of national clinical director for adult neurology
  • Charity also urges it to protect intelligence network and strategic clinical networks for neurology
  • HSJ revealed last month that NHS England is considering cuts to 23 director roles

If NHS England cuts the national clinical director for adult neurology it will show that such conditions are being “treated as lowest priority”, a patient group has claimed.

The Neurological Alliance has written to Simon Stevens, warning the NHS England chief executive against the “removal or demotion” of the post.

CT Brain scan

CT Brain scan

The letter said neurology ishould not be ‘treated as lowest priority’

HSJ revealed last month that NHS England is considering cutting the number of national clinical directors.

In the same month, the chief executive of the Neurological Alliance, Arlene Wilkie, wrote to Mr Stevens outlining the charity’s concerns about the potential loss of the NCD for adult neurology, David Bateman.

Ms Wilkie said: “Since Dr David Bateman’s appointment as NCD in 2013, he has provided much needed strategic leadership for neurology at the national level, finally giving it a level of strategic representation within NHS England that is comparable with other condition groupings.

“Dr Bateman’s leadership has provided advice, direction, coordination and focus to a wide range of projects which have the potential to make a very real impact on the experiences and outcomes for patients living with neurological conditions.

“The removal or demotion of the NCD post would suggest that neurology is once again being treated as lowest priority. We believe it is essential that the role of NCD for neurology is retained in the future.”

The letter also urged NHS England to protect the neurology intelligence network – a central data resource for neurology in the NHS – which Ms Wilkie said has “made a major contribution to filling the information gap affecting neurology services and outcomes”.

She added: “We understand that the future of the neurology intelligence network is under threat as it has received no funding commitment from either Public Health England or NHS England beyond 2015-16.”

The letter also urged the national commissioning body to “maintain sufficient funding and support” for the strategic clinical networks for neurology, which are used to coordinate regional improvement initiatives.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “The secondment agreements for most NCDs will end on 31 March 2016, so NHS England is taking the opportunity to streamline and strengthen its clinical advisory mechanisms, by better aligning the work of NCDs, clinical reference groups, clinical senates, clinical networks, chief professional officers, and numerous others in support of the Five Year Forward View and the NHS’ key improvement priorities.

“Once proposals have been finalised, we will be in contact with a number of stakeholders including the Neurological Alliance with an update on future plans.”

The NCD, intelligence network and strategic clinical networks all developed out of recommendations made in a Commons public accounts committee review of neurological services in 2012.

Both Ms Wilkie and Mr Stevens are due to give evidence to the committee on 14 December as part of its “progress review inquiry” on neurological services.