For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to know what makes people tick. This drove me to study Psychology and brought me to the world of neurology, where I have worked for a campaigning charity, and now for a private neurodiagnostic healthcare provider. Two very different sides of the fence, some might say, but I’ve found it amazing how much the two sides have in common, such as a will to provide the best level of care.
The key change for me is that in my last role I campaigned for better models of care, linked up services, and clear patient pathways; now – not to toot my own company’s horn too much – I get to provide it. I am very privileged to work for a private healthcare provider, but I’m very aware that not every neurology patient has access to this level of care. They key question is why not?
I’m going to discount the first and obvious answer of funding – people with neurological conditions often require long-term care, and research has shown that investment in prevention and management of these conditions leads to reduced emergency admissions. What about workforce? Not necessarily; my company’s consultants all practice in the NHS, as well as privately. But how do you get to them?
I’ve spoken to many service users who have been to see their GP, had emergency admissions and still have not been referred to a neurologist for diagnosis. This isn’t a disregard for their welfare, but an indicator that knowledge and understanding of neurological conditions is not widespread enough, particularly for rarer conditions.
Right now we are in the middle of Action for Brain Injury Week (13-19 May), but a quick spot check of my friends showed that most didn’t know that. However, the majority could tell me when Breast Cancer Awareness Month is.
For me, the crux of any challenge is awareness; it influences political understanding and action, and this one factor has significantly improved cancer services. 2014 is the European Brain Council’s Year of the Brain, which I hope will help neurology get some of the profile it needs. For now, please spread the word about Action for Brain Injury Week!
Tahani Saridar is General Manager of Wimbledon NeuroCare.