It’s great when the Secretary of State for Health singles out a MAC client for praise. It happened this week in front of the Health Select Committee, no less, when Mr Lansley was giving evidence about his proposals in Liberating the NHS for instituting radical bottom-up changes to commissioning in the NHS in England.
NCS singled out for praise
MAC has a particular interest in things neurological, stemming from the years I spent doing health promotion in the epilepsy world during the ‘70s and ‘80s. And of course more recently MAC helped the Motor Neurone Disease Association create the year of care commissioning tool for MND and then went on to work with Neurological Commissioning Support (NCS) service (a joint initiative of MND Association, Parkinson’s UK and the MS Society) and Beetlebrow web designers to move neurological year of care commissioning tools on to an interactive web platform.
And there was Mr Lansley this week saying that the NCS was an example of commissioning innovation and expertise coming from the Third Sector which was “just the kind of initiative we should look to see happening”. (ref 11:48:08 in the podcast). We could not agree more and hearing him say it made all the hard work worth it.
Get neurological about long term conditions commissioning
Now the challenge, of course, is to make sure that the new commissioners in GP-led consortia get this message. We talked about neurological opportunities recently in terms of the revised Operating Framework for the NHS in England. And more recently the proposed Outcomes Framework has appeared. This has no neurological content other than stroke treatment and rehabilitation (important though that is). So there is a job to do to identify what it does say about the quality of life for people with long term conditions with long term neurological ones so people realise this is about more than diabetes, angina and COPD.
Another source of help which we were involved in to make commissioners ‘neurological about long term conditions’ is the new Guide to Shaping Services published under the auspices of the Neurological Alliance’s Regional Development Project . Its focus is on supporting both staff and volunteers in that network to engage with commissioners – at whatever level – in productive and practical ways.
Switching on commissioners does not have to be an uphill battle, even though “neurological” doesn’t appear anywhere in the 72 pages of the latest Outcomes Framework. Commissioners should be reminded that there are already very good metrics for long term neurological conditions devised at the time the National Service Framework for LTNC was created in 2005 and updated since then .
Better neurological metrics and the Outcomes Framework
As we are at the mid-way point in the ten year NSF plan for Long Term Neurological Conditions, what better time than now to dust off the LTNC “better metrics” indicators and link them to the domains of the new Outcomes Framework supporting Liberating the NHS? They provide clinically relevant measures of performance to support the development of measurable local targets and indicators for local quality improvement projects for people with LTNCs.
That’s what Mr Lansley says he is looking for. MAC will ensure we make that point in our response to the consultation. We hope others will do likewise.