Please allow me to assure you that research, ensuring early diagnosis, and providing support are the Government’s key priorities for helping those living with MND.
I am encouraged that the Government has recently committed at least £50 million over the next five years to MND research, and I welcome the commitment to launch a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) led Research Unit which will coordinate research applications for this funding. This unit is backed by £4 million and is co-funded by the NIHR, UK Research and Innovation, Life Arc, MND Association and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. This coordinated funding commitment will accelerate progress across the UK to find better treatments for MND and give people living with the condition the chance of a better quality of life, and more good years with their loved ones.
With early diagnosis key to treating the symptoms of MND, I am glad that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published clear guidelines for clinicians on the assessment and management of MND. These set out the signs and symptoms of the disease and recommend that patients suspected of having MND should be referred without delay. The Royal College of GPs and the MND Association have also worked together to produce a ‘Red Flag Tool’ which sets out key signs of MND to help GPs to identify suspected cases and ensure prompt referral.
I believe it is important that care is as accessible as possible, and I am glad that the recent Spending Review committed £2.3 billion in funding for at least 100 community diagnostic centres across England alongside a broader £44 billion uplift in NHS funding before the end of this Parliament. This will help all those who live with MND access the care they need.
In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan was launched, including a commitment to reduce health inequalities. For example, the most deprived children at present are 15 per cent more likely to be obese at year 6 of primary school; the Government has committed to halve all childhood obesity and to significantly reduce the gap between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. To support local planning and ensure national programmes are focused on health inequality reduction, the NHS will set out specific, measurable goals for narrowing inequalities, including these relating to poverty, through the service improvements set out in the Long Term Plan.
I am also grateful to the MND Association for their work to highlight the importance of access to aids and adaptations in the home to people affected by Motor Neurone Disease.
As part of the Social Care White Paper, I was pleased to see that the Government has committed £570 million to delivering the Disabled Facilities Grant from 2022-23 to 2024-25 and has pledged to consult on proposals to increase the upper limit for the Grant.
Finally, I welcome that there was the APPG on MND on Wednesday 23 February. I regret that I was unable attend the online event due to my other Parliamentary duties but would like to understand more about the issues facing people with MND in my constituency.