Epilepsy not a priority in NHS Long Term Plan

Published: January 10 2019
Last updated: September 28 2022

Epilepsy organisation Epilepsy Action has said it is disappointed with the lack of priority given to epilepsy in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The Long Term Plan was published on 7 January, detailing how the NHS intends to move healthcare forward over the next 10 years.

In a post, Epilepsy Action highlighted that while epilepsy is mentioned in the plan, it is not made a priority.

The Long Term Plan discusses the creation of clinical networks to improve care for children with epilepsy. These are set to help share best practice and integrating skills across different services.

The organisation welcomed this and the NHS’ plans to reduce care inequality. A Public Health England (PHE) report in 2018 showed that people with epilepsy living in deprived areas were at an increased risk of death. This was compared to those living in wealthier areas.

However, Epilepsy Action noted that no mention is made of adult epilepsy services or transition services from children’s to adult care. The post said: “Epilepsy and neurology services in the NHS are already under pressure. It is very concerning that these services are not given the focus they need.”

Last year, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) reported on child health across England and Wales. The report showed that death rates in children and young people with epilepsy was higher than that of other western countries between 2001-15. This was despite substantial falls in overall death rates during that time.

The PHE report also found that death rates in England in people with epilepsy had risen by more than two-thirds (70%) between 2001-2014. This was also compared to a fall in overall death rates over that period.

Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “Epilepsy Action is pleased that the NHS Long Term Plan includes proposals to improve the quality of care for children with epilepsy.

“While some aspects of these proposals are promising, there is little detail about how suggested improvements will be made. We would welcome more information and the opportunity to work with the government and NHS to improve health services for people with epilepsy.

“We will continue to work to ensure that all people with epilepsy have access to the high quality, accessible epilepsy healthcare services they deserve.”