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DOH grant targets epilepsy
Epilepsy Society has been awarded nearly £300,000 from the Department of Health to help deliver better health outcomes for hard-to-reach people living with epilepsy.
The grant is for a three-year programme that will concentrate on areas with economic deprivation and a high prevalence of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups where health is often poorer than in the general population.
A key target group will also include young people and students with uncontrolled seizures who may have increased risk factors such as poor medicines adherence, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol and use of recreational drugs.
The Society aims to improve awareness and recognition of epilepsy and encourage people with the condition to seek appropriate help and support at the earliest opportunity. This should lead to increased access to the right medical and social care services and maximise epilepsy management resulting in better health outcomes.
The programme will initially be piloted in north and east London during 2012 and 2013 before being rolled out nationally. Bridget Gardiner, Epilepsy Society’s director of information services, fundraising and marketing, said: ‘We have chosen to begin this project in London as we believe we can be most effective working in a densely populated urban area with high concentrations of social deprivation.
‘The total population of Waltham Forest, Haringey, Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Newham is 1,441,000 and four of these boroughs are among the top eight most deprived in the UK with huge health inequalities. The DOH grant will really help us target these areas to improve the lives of people with epilepsy and to raise awareness of this often hidden and stigmatised condition.'
It is also hoped the programme will help reduce the amount of time people spend at unnecessary health appointments, cut down unplanned admissions to A&E, avoid accident or injury and help avoid preventable death from epilepsy.
A recent report produced for Neurological Commissioning Support shows that there are 105,000 non-elective admissions to hospital in England with epilepsy every year. This is costing the DOH £127 million.
Non-elective admissions and outpatient attendance rate is around five times higher for epilepsy than for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease combined. The report highlights that savings of £10.7 million could be made annually if standardised admission rates could be brought down in areas where they are particularly high.
Education and awareness raising
The education awareness programme will include helping people to recognise different types of seizures, learning how to cope when seizures occur and how to administer basic epilepsy first aid.
The programme will also help people to access services and understand the health and social care systems. This will help people with epilepsy, their carers and families, other voluntary organisations and the wider community within hard-to-reach groups.
Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow, said that Epilepsy Society’s grant was given as part of an initiative to test and develop innovative approaches to improve health and wellbeing.