charities in the UK have called for an immediate increase in government
spending to improve the low standards of care revealed by new research,
which shows an average waiting time between the first suspected seizure
and an appointment with a specialist of between eight and ten weeks.
The research also highlighted average waiting times for diagnostic
tests of five weeks for an EEG and 24 weeks for an MRI, versus the
guideline recently issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) of four weeks.
The consensus statement, agreeded by major UK epilepsy organisations including Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Bereaved and Joint Epilepsy Council, called for immediate investment of £150 million per year to overcome the serious gaps in service provision.
The groups also predicted that the standards laid down in the NICE guideline would not be met for a further four years.
Epilepsy Action's Deputy Chief Executive Simon Wigglesworth said:
is the most common serious neurological condition in the UK and has
been highlighted as a national priority for action since 2001. The
single biggest stumbling block to better service provision is the
access to secondary care. While the recent NICE guidance has set out
better standards for epilepsy care, these will not be achievable unless
there is a huge and immediate inward investment by the government.'
Jane Hanna, director of Epilepsy Bereaved, commented:
most pressing issue are the low numbers of epilepsy nurses, as well as
access to imaging techniques that aid precise diagnosis, but in the
long-term the number of neurologists in this country will need to
increase nearly five-fold to cope with demand on services."