We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

MPs and peers urge government to address cuts to NHS specialist nurses

5 December, 2006

The All Party
Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Epilepsy held a meeting recently on the
future of epilepsy specialist nurses (ESNs) in the NHS. This follows
the alarming trend of redundancy and reduced working hours that is now
threatening around 10 per cent of the UK's total workforce.

Specialist
Nurses providing services for people with a wide range of other
long-term neurological conditions are under similar threats.

The
APPG and the Joint Epilepsy Council (JEC), together with The
Parkinson's Disease Parliamentary Network and the Multiple Sclerosis
Society, are urging the Government not to let budgetary pressures in
the NHS affect patient care and quality of life for people with the
conditions.

Baroness
Gould of Potternewton, Chair of the APPG on Epilepsy, said: "We are
calling on the government to address this worrying trend which is
leading to a decrease in the already insufficient number of ESNs in the
UK. It is vital that these posts are retained in order to continue to
help those with epilepsy manage their condition and live independently
in the community."

Philip
Lee, Chief Executive of the charity Epilepsy Action, said: "It is disappointing
that after investing around £2.5 million in the NHS through pump prime
funding for nurse posts, we are currently in the position of having to
defend the status quo when ESNs are already in short supply.

"While
recognising that local NHS organisations have the responsibility to
allocate resources to meet patient needs, the government must not allow
local health organisations to make short-term decisions which will have
such a severe long-term effect on the quality of life for people with
epilepsy."

According
to the JEC, the umbrella organisation for epilepsy charities, the 170
ESNs in the UK make a vital contribution to the treatment and care of
people with epilepsy which is the most common serious neurological
condition in the UK, currently affecting 456,000 people.

The
ESN is a crucial source of support and advice to patients with
epilepsy, enabling many patients to manage their epilepsy effectively
while retaining their independence.