Andrew Stephenson – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Andrew Stephenson on 2016-04-13.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the average time taken is for the NHS to diagnose cases of Lyme disease.

Jane Ellison

As services for the treatment of Lyme disease are commissioned locally information on the costs associated with laboratory testing and treatment of late stage Lyme disease is not collected centrally. Nor is information collected centrally on the average time to diagnose cases of Lyme disease.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is developing a clinical guideline on Lyme disease and reports progress on its website. NICE recently consulted on a draft scope for the guideline, and expects to publish final guidance in July 2018.

Public Health England and NHS Choices publish information on their websites to raise awareness of Lyme disease and encourage timely medical consultation because early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is the best way of limiting complications from infection. Given the need to maintain public awareness these or similar mechanisms are expected to continue beyond 2018. Increased awareness is likely to encourage early consultation but no information on the time taken to seek medical advice is available.

There are no plans to set targets for diagnosis and treatment as most cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed empirically by general practitioners using their clinical judgement rather than relying on a laboratory test, thus treatment can start immediately. Diagnosis of patients with late or complicated Lyme disease can be difficult and the National Health Service will continue to provide care taking account of the existing evidence base.