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Epilepsy care neglected by majority of CCGs

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Epilepsy care is not a priority for NHS CCGs in England, despite it being one of the most common neurological disorders, a report by charity Epilepsy Action has found.

The report, Epilepsy in England: The Local Picture, found that just 10 per cent of CCGs have a written needs assessment in place for people with epilepsy, 78 per cent do not intend to develop one for their area. It also showed that of 140 health and wellbeing boards surveyed, only Tower Hamlets, Merton and Richmond had made plans to support people with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action estimates that the condition affects 500,000 people in England, and costs the health service approximately £2 billion.

The charity has urged CCGs to sign its 'pledge of action', which would require them to address the needs of people affected by epilepsy. The organisation has said that those with epilepsy are unable to access good care across England, with many facing long waits to see epilepsy specialist nurses.

Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: 'The findings of this report are concerning. They show that the organisations tasked with understanding the local needs of people with epilepsy do not consider it to be a priority and, in many places, don't even know how many people with epilepsy live in their area. Not enough is being done to understand and meet the healthcare needs of people with epilepsy on a local level – this must change. If the organisations who plan the services won't consider the needs of people with epilepsy, who will?'

He also stated that primary care nurses have an important role in the treatment of epilepsy. He said: 'Practice nurses are likely to be the first point of contact for epilepsy patients. They should be aware of epilepsy, and if necessary, refer a patient to a specialist or a neurologist.'

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