A new report warns that many people with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) who require support from a range of services often find that access is frequently compromised.

People with LTNCs interviewed by researchers from the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, identified factors that encourage continuity of care, including:
• having a single person or team co-ordinating support across boundaries and providing advocacy where necessary;
• the person or team having specialist knowledge of LTNCs and available systems of support;
• flexibility in how, when and where services and support are delivered;
• long-term involvement; and
• proactive monitoring and/or follow-up.

The report services that have these elements were found by the researchers to be:
• community interdisciplinary neurological rehabilitation teams;
• nurse specialists; and
• proactive, holistic day opportunities services.

According to the report access to services for those with LTNCs is hampered by restrictive eligibility criteria, ill-defined pathways and a lack of availability or capacity locally.

10 million people in the UK living with a neurological condition

In 2003, it was estimated that there were 10 million people in the UK living with a neurological condition that had a significant impact on their lives.

The research included a benchmarking survey of English Primary Care Trusts which showed that there is considerable variation in the availability of services for people with LTNCs.

Neurological charities and other voluntary sector organisations were found to play a key role in improving access and promoting continuity of care.

Peter Mulhern, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Unit said: “In our experience clients with brain injuries require considerable support long-term. This report is a wake-up call to those responsible for providing those services”.

‘Integrated services for people with long-term neurological conditions: evaluation of the impact of the National Service Framework’ can be obtained from: http://php.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/pubs/1789