A new NHS initiative aims to produce faster diagnosis for people with brain and nerve conditions.
It is also hoped it will reduce thousands of emergency hospital admissions a year.
A toolkit has been produced by the NHS and seven charities to help local services improve care for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Parkinson’s.
It is hoped it will avoid up to 2,500 emergency admissions to hospital each year, saving as much as £10m that can be reinvested into the NHS.
Rolling out fast-tracked blood tests and consultant appointments over Skype will be recommended by the toolkit.
Dawn Chamberlain, programme director in clinical improvement at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This is an opportunity for the NHS to work directly with patients and their families to deliver better care closer to home for the thousands of people with progressive neurological conditions.
“As they work with staff, patients and stakeholders to implement the NHS Long Term Plan, this toolkit provides the information local health leaders need to understand how to deliver high-quality neurology services.
“Many areas are already providing high-quality care in line with best practice, and by supporting others to come up to the same standard, we can deliver faster, more joined-up and better care for thousands more people – supporting them to stay well in their own homes.”
The initiative will be directed at Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them deliver faster diagnosis and treatment for progressive neurological conditions and improve access to specialist physical and mental health care.
People with the conditions will be able to better manage their symptoms at home and be more active in making decisions over their treatment.
Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “For too long, services have neglected progressive neurological conditions. This is as dangerous as it is unjust, putting people at higher risk simply because of the kind of condition they have.
“We are urging all Clinical Commissioning Groups to work with charities and implement the new toolkit, so they can make the changes so desperately needed to reduce hospital admissions and unlock these vital cost savings.”
One patient, Claire Plackett, from Croydon, south London, waited 17 years for her MS to be correctly diagnosed.
She is now being treated at St George’s University Hospitals’ MS service in south-west London, lauded in the new toolkit as an example of good practice.
The 54-year-old said: “I have blood tests once every three months to check my medicine is working, but in the past always had to join the general queue. It would take hours and hours, and was physically very draining.
“But now two days a week there’s an MS phlebotomist there taking blood just for MS patients. The service is incredibly important to me because it makes life so much easier.”
The Progressive Neurological Conditions Toolkit was created with the NHS RightCare team and Parkinson’s UK, MS Society, MS Trust, MND Association, Sue Ryder, MSA Trust and PSP Association.