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Epilepsy services 'neglected'
[Posted: Thu 22/05/2008 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
Epilepsy services in Ireland have historically been neglected, however initiatives costing less than €1 million per year could significantly ease the burden of those living with the condition, epilepsy charities have said.
The Irish Epilepsy Association (Brainwave) and the Joint Epilepsy Council of the UK and Ireland (JEC) are launching a manifesto calling for major action in this area.
According to the manifesto, ‘Epilepsy: The Case for Investment’, greater investment in services would improve the quality of life of the 35,000 Irish people living with the condition, but could also save millions of euro in the long run.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition which is diagnosed when someone has recurrent seizures caused by excess electrical activity in the brain.
“Epilepsy has suffered historical neglect and lack of investment in Ireland. Increasing the number of epilepsy nurses to 14 and providing basic epilepsy training for GPs are two cost effective yet hugely significant recommendations that would lead to real progress on the ground”, explained Mike Glynn, CEO of Brainwave.
He said that this ‘modest investment’ would improve the life quality of people with epilepsy and would deliver major savings in public expenditure through reduced disability living allowances, reduced medico-legal costs and reduced costs as a result of misdiagnosis.
The manifesto makes a number of other recommendations, including:
-The inclusion of epilepsy in the plans of each HSE region and the establishment and maintenance of an epilepsy register.
-A person with a possible new diagnosis of epilepsy should be seen by an epilepsy specialist within two weeks of a referral being made. MRI and EEG scanning should be made available to these patients within four weeks of referral.
-A 100% increase in the number of consultant neurologists.
“There are just 21 adult and five paediatric neurologists in Ireland, of whom just five adult and two paediatric are trained epileptologists. The lack of specialists and the lack of infrastructure to support existing specialists means that waiting times to access services often exceed two years”, said Dr Colin Doherty, a consultant neurologist at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
The manifesto emphasises that initiatives costing less than €1 million per year as a starting point would ‘significantly ease the burden of epilepsy in Ireland’.
According to Karen Deacon, chairperson of the JEC, current evidence suggests that over 5,400 people in Ireland are having seizures that could be prevented if they were receiving the same level of care as people attending the best epilepsy centres internationally.
“This treatment gap could be filled if the initiatives in the manifesto, all of which are approved government policy, were implemented. While we recognise that it may take some time to implement fully, there is no doubt that significant progress can be made in the short-term”, Ms Deacon said.
The manifesto is being launched as part of National Epilepsy Week, which runs until May 25.
For more information on epilepsy, see our Epilepsy Clinic, which was developed in association with Brainwave at…http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/epilepsy/
|Anonymous Posted: 23/05/2008 11:08|
|21 adult and five paediatric neurologists in Ireland. No wonder it is neglected.|
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