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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Charity: "Too few specialists in Scotland" for children with epilepsy

30 March, 2004

A
new report has revealed that children having seizures in Scotland
are waiting between 10 and 26 weeks to see a paediatrician with
an expertise in epilepsy because there are too few specialists.

The report, 'Paediatric
Epilepsy Services In Scotland' compiled by the charity Epilepsy
Scotland
, shows that Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee epilepsy centres
provide a wide
range
of specialist support but are extremely stretched. Children with
epilepsy or suspected epilepsy who live in other parts of Scotland
receive varying levels of service from their NHS Board and are being
denied expert treatment. They face lengthy waiting times for appointments
with a paediatric neurologist and are often seen by a general paediatrician
instead.

Questionnaires on epilepsy services completed by each of Scotland's
15 NHS Boards also disclosed that 10 health boards know little about
the services they provide with few records held of the number of
children receiving treatment for epilepsy or of the numbers of appropriate
staff. Many NHS Boards are unable to plan or share good practice
for children and young adults with epilepsy effectively.

Epilepsy Scotland Chief Executive Hilary Mounfield commented:

"If
you live in Glasgow and your child has a seizure you might wait
one or two weeks to see a specialist but if you live in the Western
Isles,
your child could be waiting up to 6 months. Epilepsy clinics are
only available in 9 NHS Boards. Of the 252 consultant paediatricians
in Scotland just 8.5 (whole time equivalent) are paediatric neurologists
and there are only three paediatric epilepsy specialist nurses
across the country.

"Without an early and
accurate diagnosis, children taking seizures may face possible
health risks from being given unnecessary medication
while the underlying problems causing the seizures go undetected.
As only 4 Health Boards employ a paediatric neurologist this means
too many young patients face a post code lottery for a speedy appointment.
It is unacceptable that some children have to wait as long as 26
weeks before being accurately diagnosed and treated. Or that so many
children and families are seeing doctors who are not specialists
in epilepsy."