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All Party Parliamentary Group - Parliamentary debate

MPs hold debate about epilepsy services

17 July 2007

A very successful debate about epilepsy services was held in Parliament on Tuesday 17 July 2007. This followed on from the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Epilepsy report into the current state of epilepsy services in England.

The adjournment debate provided an excellent opportunity to highlight the findings of the APPG in the report, “Wasted money, wasted lives,” which condemns continued government failure to meet the needs of people living with epilepsy. The report calls on the government to accept responsibility for the shortfall in services for people with epilepsy and to ensure that healthcare providers implement guidelines. The debate also provided an excellent opportunity to question the government about what action it intends to take to address these serious shortfalls in epilepsy services.

The debate was led by Christine McCafferty MP, who took part in the APPG inquiry into epilepsy services. A number of other MPs also took part in the debate and there was a general expression of shock at the findings of the APPG, as well as praise for the work that went into the report. Stephen O'Brien MP stated, “I know from my work with the all-party group on malaria what an undertaking it is to produce a report of such significance and authority.”

Ann Keen, the new Minister for Health Services, took part in the debate on behalf of the Department of Health. She stated that she was “astonished” by the findings of the APPG and gave a commitment to “seriously consider the recommendations.” She also stressed the importance of successful implementation of the National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions and stated that “having enough staff with the right skills and experience, who are well led and well supported, is of course key to implementing the National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions.”

The work of Epilepsy Action, particularly the Sapphire nurse scheme, was commended by Ann Keen. Concern was expressed about the current threats to epilepsy specialist nurse (ESN) posts and the failure of some health trusts to honour their commitment to continue to fund ESN posts once initial Epilepsy Action funding has ended. Concern was also expressed about long waiting times to see epilepsy specialists and to undergo tests, as well as the limited access to epilepsy services for people in prison who have epilepsy

The debate was a success and has helped to highlight the important findings of the APPG report that there are significant shortfalls in the provision of services for people with epilepsy. Ann Keen accepted the invitation to attend the APPG and said that she looks forward to working with the group.

Epilepsy Action is hoping that the publication of the APPG report and the debate will provide significant momentum for the government to take action to improve services for people with epilepsy.

Early day motion

Christine McCafferty MP tabled an early day motion (EDM) calling on the government to improve epilepsy services in the UK. This was signed by 230 MPs, who supported the report and what it hope to achieve.

If you would like any further information about the APPG inquiry please contact our press office on 0113 210 8800 or email press@epilepsy.org.uk.

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