We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Charity urges GPs to be more proactive

18 May, 2004

Almost two thirds
of people living with epilepsy in the UK have never been told of the
potential risks of the condition according to a national survey
published by the National Society for Epilepsy.

More
than half those surveyed had never discussed the side effects of their
medication with either their GP [family doctor] or consultant and
almost two thirds had not talked about possible driving restrictions.

Information
for women with epilepsy was also lacking, according to the survey. Only
a quarter had talked about the need for pre-pregnancy planning with
their GP and just 32 per cent had discussed potential risk to the baby
during pregnancy as a result of anti-epileptic medication. Recently
published prescribing guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence highlighted
the need for counselling for women with epilepsy and in particular
about the risks of using sodium valproate during pregnancy.

The charity's Director of External Relations David Josephs describes the findings of the survey as ‘very worrying':

"The
survey has shown up some very worrying statistics in relation to lack
of advice. There needs to be a more mature approach to discussing the
risks of having epilepsy. If people don't have the facts, how can they
plan their lives?

'Lots
of GPs are doing a good job. Almost 60 per cent of those surveyed said
they had seen their GP in the last 12 months to have their epilepsy
reviewed and their medication discussed. But we want to encourage them
to think about doing a little more, especially when it comes to giving
their patients proactive advice.'