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19 May 2016

Survey suggests employers should provide information and training on epilepsy to reduce stigma

A YouGov survey of over 2,000 people has found that over a quarter (26 per cent) of people working in Great Britain would be concerned about working with a colleague with epilepsy.  Of these, 63 per cent said their worry was due to not knowing how to respond if a colleague had a seizure.

The survey consists of eight questions and was completed to coincide with National Epilepsy Week, which runs from 15- 21 May 2016 and aims to raise awareness of epilepsy.

Dr Dominic Heaney, consultant neurologist at University College London said: “I speak to patients with epilepsy every day. Apart from the challenges of finding the right anti-epileptic treatment, another important task is to preserve as far as possible the normality of their lives after epilepsy diagnosis. That means maintaining relationships with family and friends, but also their jobs and importantly, income.

"Discrimination in the workplace is common"

“These survey results reinforce what I have heard from patients: discrimination in the workplace is common and often unwitting - with a lack of knowledge about epilepsy amongst the general public, what epilepsy means and doesn’t mean - with people being unaware of the right actions if somebody has a seizure, or even what a seizure may look like. Much could be done. Seizures can present in many different ways, so it is important that people know how to recognise them and what to do to give the best help possible.”

76 per cent not offered epilepsy training

Despite UK regulations stating that employers must provide their staff with the required information and training to ensure their health and the safety of their colleagues at work, 76 per cent of survey respondents had not been offered training on what to do if someone has a seizure at work.

The survey also revealed that 21 per cent of adults in Great Britain are unaware that epilepsy can be fatal, with only 17 per cent claiming that they would definitely know what to do to help someone having a seizure.

Epilepsy Society's Matthew Sowemimo comments

Matthew Sowemimo, Epilepsy Society director of external affairs and fundraising said: “People with epilepsy are up to twice as likely to be at risk of unemployment compared with those who don’t have the condition. This problem would be reduced if there was training in place to inform people about what to do if someone had a seizure at work. People with epilepsy will feel safer and more supported within the workplace if they know that their colleagues are better informed about epilepsy. Employers may also be more confident in hiring someone with epilepsy if they had a better understanding of the condition.”

Read more about epilepsy and employment


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