I was proud to serve as the vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on MND and so I entirely appreciate that MND can have a devastating impact on a person's quality of everyday life and be a real struggle for patients and their loved ones. Please allow me to assure you, therefore, that ensuring early diagnosis and support for those living with MND remains a key priority of the NHS.
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 new 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.
All services for people with MND should be commissioned in line with NHS England's neurosciences service specification which sets out what providers must have in place to deliver high quality specialised neurological care. MND care is part of the NHS's specialised services and you may like to know that the budget for these services has increased more rapidly than other parts of the NHS, to £16.6 billion for the year 2017/18.
I also recognise the valuable contribution made by carers of people with MND, many of whom spend a significant proportion of their life providing support to family members, friends and neighbours. I agree that carers must receive the right support to help them carry out their caring roles and a new cross-Government National Carers Strategy is being introduced to look at what more can be done to support existing and future carers.