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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A catalogue of failures in the care and treatment of epilepsy is leading to wasted lives and wasted money

Epileptics' lives lost in care shambles - Guardian


"Nearly 400 lives and £189m are wasted every year in England through a catalogue of failures in the care and treatment of epilepsy, according to a report published today by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Epilepsy.

The report - Wasted Money, Wasted Lives - concludes that, despite effective treatments, there are 365 avoidable deaths a year from epilepsy, 69,000 people are living with unnecessary seizures, and 74,000 people are taking anti-epilepsy drugs they do not need.

Baroness Gould, chair of the APPG, says the report identifies a national scandal: "Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the report is the fact that better services would result in savings for the NHS ... and around £189m could be saved every year. This would more than cover the cost of improved services."

Supported by the Joint Epilepsy Council of the UK and Ireland (JEC), the report also condemns what it calls the continued government failure to meet the needs of people living with the condition. "Government guidelines for major changes to the treatment of epilepsy do exist," says Karen Deacon, chair of the JEC. "But, without targets or powers, these are little more than wish lists and are of little use to patients facing critical service failures." The JEC says the government should accept responsibility for the shortfall in services and increase the numbers of doctors and nurses specialising in epilepsy as a "matter of urgency".