Data shows neurology appointments stayed steady during first COVID-19 lockdown

Newly published data provided to Parkinson’s UK by the Neurological Alliance in England, has shown that the number of hospital-based neurology appointments in England remained steady during the first lockdown (March to June 2020).

It’s been a year since the UK first went into lockdown back in March 2020, marking the start of an extremely challenging period for healthcare professionals working in Parkinson’s services across the UK. Many NHS staff caring for people with Parkinson’s were redeployed to help support their colleagues on COVID-19 wards. This, along with in-person appointments being cancelled, has had a huge impact on Parkinson’s service provision across the UK.

However, newly released data from the Neurological Alliance in England, has indicated that many neurology services were actually able to continue offering Parkinson’s appointments and maintain a steady service during the first lockdown, largely due to the rapid implementation of remote consultations.

Key findings - neurology appointments

A comparison of data from the first lockdown (March to June 2020) to data from the same period in 2019, found that the number of hospital-based neurology appointments in England for Parkinson’s, and related conditions, remained steady during lockdown. 

Although the data shows face to face appointments fell by 31%, it shows teleconsultations increased from 6% to 36%, illustrating how many services were able to adapt to new ways of working to continue supporting their patients. 

Experience of moving to telehealth 

The Parkinson’s team at King’s College Hospital in London have set up remote appointments and group clinics, and continue navigating the ongoing stress and uncertainty with their patients.

Professor Ray Chaudhuri, Consultant Neurologist and Miriam Parry, Senior Parkinson’s Nurse at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, explained: 

“Since the start of lockdown in early 2020, we at King's have provided telehealth support for our patients using secure video and telephone consultations. We also launched group multidisciplinary ‘online clinics’, which enabled patients to come together as a group and receive education and information. They worked really well and at one clinic we hosted over 80 patients. 

“Our waiting lists have dropped and feedback from patients has shown that they felt cared for and less anxious. Despite some concerns, we believe telehealth is here to stay in Parkinson’s care, and we are considering the introduction of a hybrid model in the future.” 

Variation in services - not the full picture 

Despite these findings providing a promising picture, it should be noted that there was large variation in changes to appointments between trusts and CCGs. While many services increased the number of teleconsultations, others were unable to. This reinforces the geographical differences that have been seen in access to care during the pandemic, the unique challenges faced by each service and the need for flexible, and place-based approaches to rebuilding services.

This dataset alone also doesn’t give a complete picture - data for all UK nations, and appointments with Elderly Care consultants and in the community is not included.

The Excellence Network are here to to support you

Although vaccine roll-outs continue at pace, the NHS still faces challenges in adapting to the ongoing impact of the pandemic - and the Excellence Network remains here to support you and your Parkinson’s services. 

Excellence Network staff are continuing to gather evidence to better understand the current picture of Parkinson’s services. To discuss how we can help support your service, please get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected].

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