During National Epilepsy Week, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Epilepsy met in Westminster. Health Minister Ann Keen attended the meeting to hear about the work being carried out on behalf of people with epilepsy. She announced that she would be writing to all Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) in England to highlight this work, and ask them to improve their services for people with epilepsy.
The letter was sent out to the eight SHAs on July 23. Epilepsy Action has received a copy:
To: SHA Long-Term Conditions Leads
Date: July 2009
I would like to draw to your attention the report Epilepsy in England: Time for Change, which was published by Epilepsy Action earlier this year.
Epilepsy in England: time for change, which is available on Epilepsy Action’s website at www.epilepsy.org.uk/timeforchange, reports on the results of a survey of acute trusts and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England as well as a survey of people with epilepsy. The results of these surveys revealed wide variations in the provision of epilepsy services, as well as variations in the collection of information and the quality of care provided. Particular problems indentified in the report included:
These problems principally stem from low levels of implementation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guideline on the diagnosis and care of children and adults with epilepsy.
- access to specialists in epilepsy
- waiting times for a first appointment
- access to diagnostic tests
- the lack of care plans and transition services.
Epilepsy in England: time for change follows an earlier report, Wasted Money Wasted Lives, published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Epilepsy in 2007. This report raised similar issues in terms of variable implementation of the National Service Framework (NSF) for Long-term Conditions and NICE guidance and highlighted the social, economic and personal cost of not implementing this guidance.
I know that many PCTs are working towards full implementation of the NICE clinical guideline, as well the NSF for long-term conditions, and I would like to reinforce the importance of the NICE guidance and NSF in delivering high quality, accessible services to this client group. Investing in the services envisaged in both the NSF and NICE guidance will help people live more independently, improve their quality of life and be a more cost effective way of providing services.
The Epilepsy Action report’s recommendations are directed at NHS organisations as well as the Department of Health. I hope that, with your partners, you give appropriate attention to the messages contained in the report to ensure better outcomes for service users and their carers.
Thank you in anticipation of your support for this important area of work.
With best wishes,
Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Health