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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Studies suggest epilepsy more common in deprived areas

13 October, 2004

Doctors working
in socially deprived areas can expect to treat two to three times as
many patients with epilepsy and will have to spend more of their
budgets on staff training and service planning to provide care.

Two
studies in London and Glasgow have found that people from socially and
economically deprived backgrounds are up to 2.3 times more likely to
have epilepsy. Professor Ley Sander who co-authored the London research
presented his findings and discussed risk factors in epilepsy and
attendant health costs at an Epilepsy Scotland lecture in Edinburgh.

Dr George Barlow, who led the Glasgow audit on 1,300 patients with epilepsy in the south west of Glasgow, said:

"We
expected there might be some increase in epilepsy in deprived
communities but we were surprised by the scale of the difference in
rates. Government research is needed. We have set aside funding in 22
local health care co-operative practices to review epilepsy patients
and train staff to deliver the best possible care."

Hilary Mounfield, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland, commented:

"Both
epilepsy studies suggest that the poorest people face the greatest
burden of epilepsy. This is news because no-one has suggested a direct
link between epilepsy and poverty before. We urgently need to know why
people on the lowest incomes living in the most deprived areas more
than double their risk of developing epilepsy. This has serious
implications for funding and managing epilepsy services."