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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 February 2008, 09:52 GMT
Epilepsy proposals 'are UK first'
Michelle Morris
Michelle Morris, 18, wants an overhaul of the system

Plans to improve care for people with epilepsy in Wales have been announced in a strategy the assembly government believes is the UK's first of its kind.

Measures to reduce the incidence of epilepsy, help people to self-manage their condition and ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment are included.

The All-Wales Epilepsy Forum said it hoped the plan would be implemented.

It also includes measures to provide more care closer to peoples' homes, reducing hospital admissions.

Well-managed medication procedures can help around 70% of people with epilepsy to be seizure-free - thereby reducing the risk of emergency admission, said the assembly government.

Under the plans, each Local Health Board would be required to develop a local action plan for epilepsy by September 2008 and ensure multi-disciplinary teams are in place by March 2009.

EPILEPSY
Scene from a first aid video
Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in Wales
It is estimated between 20,000 - 30,000 people live with the condition
1,500 more people every year develop epilepsy
Around 1,000 people die every year in the UK because of epilepsy
The chance of premature death is two or three times more likely for people living with epilepsy compared to the general population

It aims to develop methods to ensure people with epilepsy are treated in the right place, at the right time and by the right person.

The plans were developed in partnership with the All-Wales Epilepsy Forum and groups such as health and social care professionals with expertise in epilepsy.

Consultant neurologist Dr Phillip Smith said a more joined-up approach was needed to help patients with the condition.

He said: "Epilepsy is not a single condition, it presents to different specialists,.

"So physicians, or care-of-the elderly physicians, neurologists, primary care doctors, paediatricians, will all be dealing with epilepsy and at the moment all in their own sector, without any joined-up thinking across Wales.

"This [assembly plan] will, I think, help to integrate things much better."

Ms Hart said the assembly government was committed to providing better services that were more patient-centred, integrated across health, social care and voluntary sector organisations and delivered closer to people's homes.

"I am pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government is leading the way in improving the care and treatment for people living with epilepsy," she added.

Welcoming the strategy, Ann Reynolds, chair of the All-Wales Epilepsy Forum, said: "If the plans are implemented fully we believe they should lead to real improvements in epilepsy services and have a positive impact for people with epilepsy in Wales."

The proposals will be put out to consultation until 2 May.



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