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3 September 2013

Epilepsy super nurse parachutes in

Juliet Ashton has been announced as the country's first ever 'super nurse' whose job will be to design better services nationwide  for people with epilepsy.The brand new role has been created to provide support and guidance to the country's 221 clinical commissioning groups which were created as part of the NHS restructure in April 2013. Juliet will be looking at ways to improve epilepsy nursing services in hospitals and neurological services.

The appointment is the brainchild of non-profit organisation Neurological Commissioning Support (NCS) . Juliet will be employed by Epilepsy Society  - an affiliate partner of NCS - and jointly funded by Epilepsy Action as part of their Sapphire Nurse Scheme.

News of Juliet's appointment coincides with recent audits of epilepsy services in GP practices carried out by Epilepsy Society, working alongside NCS. The audits reveal significant problems which they believe could be addressed with measures such as the appointment of more epilepsy specialist nurses. There are currently  around 250 epilepsy specialist nurses(ESNs) across the UK in spite of there being an estimated need for 1,100.

Epilepsy Society healthcare professional conference

At Epilepsy Society's healthcare professional conference held at London Southbank University, Alison Leary, independent healthcare consultant and researcher, outlined the value of specialist nurses in long term conditions such as epilepsy.

She said that of all the recent developments in nursing,  specialist nurses have been the most exciting and least understood and valued. Studies of rheumatology specialist nurses show that their work in outpatients frees up consultants for new patient appointments, while telephone consultations reduce the number of GP appointments.'They are excellent value for money' she said.

Sue Thomas, chief executive of NCS said: 'It can take time for individual hospitals to develop a business case to support new care pathways and appoint staff. The ability to "parachute" an experienced epilepsy specialist nurse into an area and work with existing teams  to set the ball rolling will improve outcomes for patients.'