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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Eight month wait for care in Wales - charity

24 October, 2006

People with epilepsy in Wales are facing a wait of eight months or more to see a specialist compared to six weeks in England.

There
are 14 full-time equivalent neurologists for the population of
2,903,000, but according to Epilepsy Wales, there should be 45.

The
Welsh Assembly Government said it would be bringing forward plans to
improve services, but public consultation won't start until next year.

Phil
Smith, consultant neurologist in the Welsh Epilepsy Unit at the
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, said, "We do prioritise people
with a first suspected seizure. We expect to see them hopefully within
two weeks, but in practice within four or six weeks because of the
pressures on the services."

Mr Smith also felt the public were not very aware of the condition.

"The main thing is that there's no famous public figure who will acknowledge that they have epilepsy," he said.

"Unfortunately,
people in the public eye who are in a position to make a difference
choose to conceal it, because they recognise that actually coming out
and saying they have epilepsy might jeopardise their chances of
progression."

According to Epilepsy Wales, between 20,000 and 30,000 people in Wales have the condition.