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Neuromuscular Care (Bristol)

Volume 517: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2010

2. What progress his Department has made in the provision of specialist neuromuscular care in Bristol; and if he will make a statement. (20929)

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Of course, it is important that the commissioning of services, which is about getting the right treatment and services for people, is a decision that is made locally. The south west specialised commissioning group—SWSCG—has responsibility for commissioning specialised services for neuromuscular conditions in Bristol. I know that there have been some problems in the past, but since the Walton report the group has reviewed its provision of neuromuscular services and appointed both an additional paediatric neuromuscular consultant and a new adult neuromuscular consultant in Bristol, as part of the £l million investment for the south-west, which I am sure she will welcome.

I thank the Minister for that comprehensive response. Families who live with muscle disease, such as the Arshad family, in Brislington, in my constituency, have welcomed the work of the SWSCG but are very worried about the impact that the introduction of GP-led commissioning will have on these services. They really feel that families like them will be left by the wayside. What reassurances can she give them?

May I point out to the hon. Lady that, in fact, GPs are often very aware of the services that are needed? The neuromuscular team attached to the SWSCG has worked with the South West Muscle Group on the development of a provider register for hydrotherapy services, for example. Such things are best decided by GPs, who know exactly what people need, what treatment is needed and what care services are needed to ensure the best possible outcomes and the best possible quality of life.

The national service framework for long-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis, in which I am very interested, was much praised at the time it was launched. Does the Minister feel that it was properly funded and that it has been run properly since? Has it lived up to the expectations that we all had of it three or four years ago when it was launched?

With particular reference to the care provided in Bristol, the one thing that I would say is that commissioning is not something that has done well. There is never any room for complacency in the provision of services or in the provision of treatment. We always need to strive to do better.