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Question for Department of Health

UIN 26986, tabled on 11 February 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to improve access to speciality care for people with epilepsy.

Answered on

22 February 2016

In its guideline, Epilepsies: diagnosis and management, published in 2012, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) sets out that epilepsy is estimated to affect between 362,000 and 415,000 people in England. The guidance highlights that accurate estimates of incidence and prevalence are problematic to achieve because accurately identifying people who may have epilepsy is difficult. Regarding seizure control, NICE states that two-thirds of people with active epilepsy can have their epilepsy controlled satisfactorily with anti-epileptic drugs.

Data on prevalence and seizure rates in patients aged 18 and above are also available via an interactive tool develop by Public Heath England’s Neurology Intelligence Network (NIN). This data is drawn from current and past indicators from the Quality and Outcomes Framework, the annual reward and incentive programme for general practitioner practices. The NIN tool can be found at the following link:

The NICE guideline recommends that people having a first seizure should be seen as soon as possible by a specialist with training and expertise in epilepsy. Once diagnosed, and with a management strategy in place, the majority of people with epilepsy can be cared for through routine access to primary and secondary care. Those whose epilepsy cannot be satisfactorily controlled or whose condition cannot be appropriately diagnosed should be referred to specialised neurological service, commissioned nationally by NHS England. NHS England has published adult and paediatric specifications setting out what providers must have in place to offer specialised care for patients with neurological problems, including epilepsy. In addition, NHS England also commissions a national Children’s Epilepsy Surgery Service, designed to improve the uptake and access to surgery in those children for whom surgical control or amelioration for their epilepsy is a possibility. More information can be found at the following links:

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