Closed petition Fund research, treatment and awareness of Functional Neurological Disorder

Funding is needed to set up and increase service provision for multi-disciplinary treatment centres. Treatment requires specialist care with a team of neurologists, physiotherapists etc. which must be integrated to create an effective plan. Current options are limited & insufficient.

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FND is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and brain. Symptoms may appear similar to Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy, and can be just as debilitating. Most patients are left unable to function and rely on carers and aids. In 2008 disorders like FND directly cost the NHS approximately £3.1 billion, with an additional £14.5 billion in indirect costs. With an NHS already under pressure, improving services and treatment for those with FND would greatly lift this burden.

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Government responded

This response was given on 19 April 2021

Treatment for patients with FND is delivered via local commissioning and specialised centres across England, and supported through the development of a clinical pathway and targeted research funding.

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The National Neuro Advisory Group (NNAG), which includes NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I), Public Health England, expert bodies, clinicians, academics, and patient voice organisations, develops and coordinates the national programme of neurology service improvement. NNAG has a priority in their work plan for 2021/2022 to support development of a clinical pathway for functional neurological conditions, including functional neurological disorder (FND).

To support clinicians in the diagnosis of FND, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published the ‘Suspected neurological conditions: recognition and referral’ guideline in 2019, which covers the initial assessment of symptoms and signs that might indicate a neurological condition. It helps healthcare professionals to identify people more quickly who should be offered referral for specialist investigation. A link to this guidance follows.

For patients with FND it is likely that their primary assessments and diagnosis will be undertaken in a specialised neurology centre, commissioned by NHSE directly. There are currently 25 specialist neurological treatment centres which are geographically spread across England to support equality of access for the general population. The majority of services for people with FND are commissioned at a local level by Clinical Commissioning Groups, who are best placed to plan the provision of services, subject to local prioritisation and funding. The service specifications for neurology services are available at the following link.

The Department of Health and Social Care funds research into conditions through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including FND, although it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality. NIHR is currently providing funding for two active FND studies.

Department of Health and Social Care