What is a Consultant Paediatric Neurologist?
Consultant Paediatric Neurologists are specialist clinicians who have expert knowledge and training in the diagnosis and management of neurological disorders affecting children and young people. They care for patients from fetal life to adulthood (16-18 years). They are based in regional ‘tertiary centres’.
A referral to a paediatric neurology centre (tertiary care) will usually be made by a paediatrician (secondary care). You may be referred to a paediatric neurologist for conditions such as:
- Epilepsy and paroxysmal disorders
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Brain and spinal injury
- Infections of the brain and spinal cord
- Brain and spinal tumours
- Neurogenetic disorders
- Movement disorders
- White matter disorders
- Inborn errors of metabolism
- …and many others
Some conditions are relatively straightforward for a paediatric neurologist to diagnose and treat. You may see them once or twice and be referred back to your local paediatrician or GP. Other conditions are more complex and the paediatric neurologist will frequently work in close co-operation with other specialists (eg neuroradiologists, geneticists, specialists in metabolic medicine etc) before making a diagnosis and planning treatment. Paediatric neurologists will often co-ordinate care with a ‘multidisciplinary team’ that will very often include specialist nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists, psychologists and other allied healthcare professionals.
Where are Paediatric Neurology tertiary centres?
Consultant Paediatric Neurologists work in ‘tertiary centres’ - regional hospitals, usually specialist children’s hospitals that are attached to a university. Some centres also have outreach clinics, where the paediatric neurologist travels to a district general hospital to see patients in clinic with the local paediatrician. Below is a list of the paediatric neurology centres in the United Kingdom:
- Newcastle upon Tyne
- Manchester & Preston
- London North: Great Ormond Street Hospital
- London North: Chelsea & Westminster Hospital
- London North: The Royal London Hospital
- London North: Imperial College NHS Trust
- London South: Evelina London Children's Hospital
- London South: St George’s Hospital
What training do Consultant Paediatric Neurologist have?
Paediatric neurologists devote their professional life to improving the lives of children with neurological disorders and conducting research to improve care. Paediatric neurologists have expert knowledge and training in a vast range of disorders affecting children and young people. Medical school is followed by 2-years as a Foundation doctor and 5-years training in paediatrics, followed by a further 3.5-years in paediatric neurology.
Many trainees also take additional time during their neurology training to undertake a research training fellowship and obtain postgraduate research degrees (PhDs and MDs) - you can read the story of one paediatric neurology trainee who is currently jointly funded by the BPNA and Action Medical Research. Most paediatric neurologists are involved with clinical research throughout their careers to improve the care of children with neurological disorders, and some become world-leading experts in specific disease areas.