With three people dying every day in the UK from epilepsy-related causes, there is so much more that can be done to help those with epilepsy, many of whom are young adults. Valerie Vaz explains the 10 minute rule bill she is introducing in the Commons today.

Epilepsy in the UK

Today I am introducing a Bill in the House of Commons, calling on the government to develop action plans in health and education for people with epilepsy and related conditions. This would lead to benefits for the many individuals with epilepsy whose lives are adversely affected by poor health or education provision.

Nearly half a million people in the UK have epilepsy – one in every 131 people – yet it remains a low-profile condition. There are several historical and contemporary figures now known to have experienced epilepsy or other types of seizure, including Dostoevsky, Byron and Neil Young.

While 50 per cent of people with epilepsy have their seizures successfully controlled by drugs, many of the other quarter of a million will struggle with stigma, unemployment and fear throughout their lives. Unfortunately the NHS by and large fails them. Britain has leading centres of excellence and leads the world in epilepsy research, but is lagging well behind in practice.

Figures from the Joint Epilepsy Council show that about three people a day die of epilepsy-related causes; one of these three deaths every day is avoidable with good treatment. That means there are 400 avoidable deaths per year. Young people aged 16-35 are at the greatest risk.

Improving health services involves widening access to tertiary care. Any costs of tertiary referral would soon be recovered by providing good quality treatment. The medical costs alone of misdiagnosis are estimated at over £22 million each year, and these mistakes can leave people unnecessarily taking strong drugs with severe side effects for the rest of their lives.

The entire cost of failing to treat people with epilepsy is estimated at £189 million a year: a waste that is unacceptable.

In 1978 the Warnock Report into special education called for better information for staff in schools, and acknowledgement of the impact of the condition on concentration and behaviour. This is still awaiting implementation. About half of all children with epilepsy are under-achieving in relation to their intellectual ability. We need to raise awareness among children, families and teachers, and introduce assessments to identify and support children as early as possible.

This Bill asks the government to implement these action plans. The minimal costs of bringing in these action plans will be superseded by the future savings in the improvements in the quality of living for the individuals and families affected. 

 

Photo: Victoria Peckham

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Comments: 2...

  1. On November 25, 2010 at 7:27 am Robert responded with... #

    Yes and the New labours WCA medical for benefits does not see this illness as important enough to even pay out benefits, most people who are suffering from this are told your OK get on with it, but my Nephew who has this has been sacked three times from employers, he has refused to tell employers about his illness, but of course if he has a seizure he is then told sorry we cannot employ you, then he is dumped onto JSA.

  2. On January 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm SASKIA SCOTT responded with... #

    I AM A 41 YEAR OLD FEMALE.WAS DIAGNOSED IN 1992 WITH R/R MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.I HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE LUCKIER MS PEOPLE IN THAT I SECURED MANY JOBS WITHIN THE CIVIL SERVICE.MY EMPLOYERS KNEW ABOUT MY MS AND STRANGELY ENOUGH IT NEVER REARED IT’S HEAD IN 19 YEARS AND I AM STILL RELATIVELY WELL NOW.BUT LAST YEAR I WAS OUT FOR BREAKFAST WITH MY HUSBAND WHEN I SUDDENLY GOT ALL WOEKED UP AND DEMANDED TO GET HOME AND QUICKLY.I WAS NOT SURE WAT WAS HAPPENING AND I CAN REMEMBER NOTHING UNTIL I WOKE UP IN HOSPITAL.SEVERAL MRI TESTS,AND BRAIN SCANS AND READINGS LATER AND I WAS DIAGNOSED AS HAVING JACSONIAN EPILEPSY.I AM A QUALIFIED PATHOLOGIST AND EVEN I MISSED THAT ONE.I AM ON 2 100MGS TEGRETOL DAILY ALONG WITH 100MGS CITALOPRAM. I TOO WISH TO RAISE THE PROFILE OF THIS MYSTTERIOUS ILLNESS THAT SURELY MUST BE ADDRESSED AND QUICKLY TOO DONT WE ALL FEEL???DAME SHIRLEY WILLIAMS HAS ASSURED ME THAT IF I WRITE TO HER SHE WILL FIGHT MY CONCERNS WITH ME IN THE COMMONS.TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE SO I URGE EVERYONE WITH EXPERIENCE OF EPILEPSY TO JUMP WITH ME/US ON THIS BANDWAGON TO MAKE IT A PERMANENT SUBJECT TO CONTINUALLY BE ADDRESSED!!!

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