January was an exciting month in terms of media coverage for Epilepsy Action. We have been working up to the launch of our Epilepsy in England: Time for Change report at the House of Commons for several months. The launch was on Wednesday 14 February and thirty MPs attended, which is an impressive turnout. This included five members of the Health Select Committee. An Early Day Motion (EDM 441) has been tabled and so far has 94 signatures.
We issued a press release about the report. It also gave information on the current state of epilepsy services in England, following our survey among acute trusts and PCTs. Media coverage included 12 radio interviews (nine of them were BBC radio stations). These included BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Three Counties, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Shropshire, HFM, Radio Aire and Stray FM.
There were at least 13 regional newspaper features. Some of them include the Coventry Evening Telegraph, Derby Evening Telegraph, Yorkshire Evening Post, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Nottingham Evening Post, the Matlock Mercury and the Plymouth Herald. We also managed to place national coverage in The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph.
We had interest from regional television stations including BBC Look East, BBC Look East Midlands, and BBC Look North. Unfortunately, after all our hard work, our potential news pieces were dropped at the last minute. However, the important news is that we have made some great contacts for our National Epilepsy Week campaign.
The Nursing Standard approached us about the shortage of epilepsy specialist nurses in England. An article featuring a patient highlighted the benefits of having access to an epilepsy specialist nurse. One of our Sapphire nurses from Norwich Primary Care Trust assisted with this. Lantern FM did an interview with our North Devon Branch about their campaign for an epilepsy specialist nurse.
Community radio station 97.5 Kemet FM approached our Nottingham branch. Two of the branch officers took part in an interview. They spoke about what they did in the branch and issues surrounding epilepsy. These included the myths, problems in treating epilepsy, epilepsy services, and what to do if someone has a seizure.
We worked with The Daily Mail, Luton Herald and Post, and The Wharfedale Observer on the issue of low energy light bulbs. We provided a comment advising that, while there is no evidence to suggest low energy light bulbs effect epilepsy, more research is needed. Normal bulbs should be available to people with epilepsy until we know more about the risks. Broadcasters BBC Radio Leicester, BBC Radio Shropshire and a Dutch TV programme also approached us about this issue.
As well as issuing press releases for branch and fundraising events, Epilepsy Action issued two further press releases. One of them was about our Bradford 10k running event on 29 March. This generated a couple of great articles in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus (article about Bradford 10k) (article about a family of 12 who are taking part).
The other (16) press release highlighted the appointment of our Sapphire nurse, Donald Mackintosh, to NHS Highland.
February has been a busy month too, with National Doodle Day, and we'll have more on that in the next month's media blog