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November 2011 MPs debate epilepsy related death

On Tuesday 29 November, MPs in Westminster debated ‘Prevention of avoidable deaths from epilepsy’.

Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham, Selly Oak), member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Epilepsy, secured the debate which took place in Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament.

Epilepsy related deaths

  • In 2009, 1,150 people in the UK died of epilepsy related causes 1 (644 males and 506 female).
  • In England and Wales 110 or 11 per cent of those deaths are young adults or children under the age of 25 2.
  • The highest number of epilepsy related deaths occurred in people between the ages of 35 and 54 years.
  • Approximately 42 per cent or 480 of the deaths per year are probably avoidable 3.

Some studies have suggested that the likelihood of early death in people with epilepsy is two to three times higher than the general population 4. The biggest risk appears to be poor seizure control, with risk of early death rising as the number of seizures rise.

In the 10 years since the National Sentinel Clinical Audit of Epilepsy-Related Deaths report 5, there has been no decline in the number of deaths each year. 6

You can find out more about SUDEP Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, which accounts for nearly half of all epilepsy related deaths, by visiting our SUDEP webpage.

The MPs who attended the debate were:

  • Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
  • Paul Bustow MP, Care Services Minister (Sutton and Cheam)
  • Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Public Health Minister (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
  • Jim Cunningham MP (Coventry South)
  • Nia Griffith MP (Llanelli)
  • Jim Shannon MP (Strangford)
  • Paul Maynard MP (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  • Paul Flynn MP (Newport West) 

Thank you to MPs who attended and everyone who contacted their MP to ask them to attend. Epilepsy Action will be following up some of the points made in the debate with MPs and the minister.


1 statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_health/dr2009/dr-09.pdf
2 statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_health/dr2009/dr-09.pdf
3 Hanna NJ et al, The national sentinel audit of epilepsy-related death. London: The Stationery Office, 2002
4 Lhatoo SD, Sander LW. Cause-specific mortality in epilepsy. Epilepsia 46 (Suppl. 11), 36-39 (2005)
5 Hanna, NJ, Black M, Sander JW, Smithson WH, Appleton R, Brown S, Fish DR. The National Sentinel Clinical Audit of Epilepsy-Related Death: Epilepsy – death in the shadows. London: The Stationery Office, 2002
6 Dalli, John. ‘Mortality rates for people in the EU with epilepsy’, European Parliament Written Answer, 28 March 2011

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