Almost 9 in 10 Health Boards and Trusts in England and Wales do not enable mental health provision within epilepsy clinics. This is despite research showing that children with epilepsy are four times more likely to experience a mental health problem than their peers.
This is a finding in the new Epilepsy12 National Audit report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). The report also found that nearly a quarter of Health Boards and Trusts are failing to provide routine and comprehensive care planning for children with epilepsy.
The report also highlighted areas of improvement. The number of epilepsy specialist nurses (ESNs) across England and Wales has increased significantly since 2014, when the last audit was published. ESNs are a key part of the epilepsy team, providing essential support to children and young people and their families.
However, the report also found that almost a quarter of Health Boards and Trusts were not able to provide access to ESNs.
Philip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: “It is encouraging to see that clear improvements have been made in some areas of children’s epilepsy services.
“Despite this, there are still too many children and young people with epilepsy whose health, wellbeing and safety is being put at risk. There needs to be a strong focus on good care plans and support between appointments to improve epilepsy services and outcomes for young people.
“The report does a good job of highlighting best practice in this area and provides an opportunity for those services that are still lagging behind to step up.”
Mr Lee added that he hopes the report and the recently published NHS Long Term Plan will promote improvements to the quality of care for children with epilepsy.
The Epilepsy12 National Audit was introduced to assess epilepsy care for children and young people in England and Wales. Care is measured against national guidelines and standards as set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).