Parliament debates post-pandemic neurological services

Baroness Gale led a debate in the House of Lords this week about government plans to restart neurology services

On Thursday 27 May, Baroness Gale, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Parkinson's, led a debate in the House of Lords. She asked the government what they are planning to do to make sure people with neurological conditions get the care and support they need from the NHS after the pandemic.

Baroness Gale has actively supported the APPG for over 10 years. In her speech she outlined:

  • the impact of the pandemic on the Parkinson's community
  • the vital role that therapy services play in helping people live well with their neurological condition
  • NHS data that shows increasing waiting times for neurology appointments and treatment
  • how the pandemic has delayed life-changing deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery for people with Parkinson's  
  • how virtual appointments haven't met the needs of everyone with neurological conditions during the pandemic.   

Baroness Gale also asked to meet with the government to further understand government plans. She was supported by other peers who echoed her points, with examples from other neurological conditions.

In response on behalf of the government, Baroness Penn said that NHS England had made necessary but undesirable changes to the way that care was delivered throughout the pandemic, through digital innovations and suspension of some services. She highlighted the £7bn pledged to help the NHS recover the backlog of care from the pandemic. This includes £1m allocated to elective care, which could benefit neurological services. 

Baroness Penn, who is a government whip, offered to write to Baroness Gale to explain plans to address the backlog in DBS procedures. Baroness Penn said that it is crucial that patients are seen at the right time and in the right place, and that neurological services should return to pre-pandemic levels provided there is not a further COVID-19 outbreak.

She also assured the House that she and NHS England will be working with partners to develop a national neurological services plan as part of its recovery and restoration work. 

Read a transcript of the debate.

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