Neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), are not a priority for the NHS, a committee of MPs has found.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee - a group of cross party MPs who scrutinise the way public money is spent - found that neurological services in England are not consistently good enough.
MPs argued that despite NHS England making some progress in improving care for people with neurological conditions, services aren't consistently good and the variation in services across the country is unacceptable.
Some of their findings reflect evidence from our own studies and support our current campaigning work.
Variety of services across England
MPs found a wide variation in neurological services provided in England with people in some areas experiencing difficulty accessing services and having poorer outcomes than in other parts of the country.
We know that when a person sees a neurologist or MS nurse they are more than twice as likely to be on an MS medicine. These are treatments that can stop the frequency and severity of MS attacks and in some cases slow progression. That's why our Treat Me Right campaign is calling for people with MS to have access to the right treatment at the right time.
Diagnosis too slow
The report also found diagnosing neurological conditions is too slow. This is reflected in results of a survey we undertook last year which found that 1 in 5 (20%) people had to wait between 1 and 3 years for a diagnosis following their first visit to their GP with symptoms. The prospect of being diagnosed with a neurological condition like MS can be confusing and scary; delays will only make this worse.
Who provides what in terms of treatment and care?
MPs called for clarity on who is responsible for commissioning neurological services. We are aware of the confusion between NHS England, the national commissioning body, and the local clinical commissioning groups which can sometimes mean that people with MS don't get the services they need. This is unacceptable.
National Clinical Director under threat
The post of National Clinical Director for neurology - a key role MPs say help promote services - is due to end in April. National leadership can ensure improvements in services continue and provision for conditions like MS are not left behind.
Today's report is a stark reminder of the unacceptable inequalities that exist for people living with MS. The publication provides NHS England with an opportunity to set out its proposals for accountability and ensure that neurological services are kept at the top of our health and social agenda.
Find out more on the MS Society's campaigning work.