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early access to specialist diagnosis and care

One of the 12 statements in the Epilepsy charter covering the rights and services that a person with epilepsy can expect.

The Epilepsy Charter says: ‘After a suspected seizure, you should be seen by an epilepsy specialist within two weeks.’ This is recommended (and not a legal right) so that suspected epilepsy can be diagnosed and appropriate management can be considered without delay.

National guidelines

The NICE clinical guideline (opens new window) for epilepsy says: 

"All children, young people and adults with a recent onset suspected seizure should be seen urgently by a specialist."

‘Urgently’ means being seen within two weeks. For adults, a ‘specialist’ is a doctor with training and expertise in epilepsy. For children and young people, this is a paediatrician with training and expertise in epilepsy. If a diagnosis cannot be confirmed, NICE recommends further investigations or a referral to tertiary services. If any tests would be helpful, these tests should be done within four weeks.

The Handbook to the NHS Constitution (opens new window) says:

"All patients should receive high-quality care without any unnecessary delay."

The sooner epilepsy is diagnosed, the quicker you can start making decisions about treatment and management. Trying to get your seizures controlled as soon as possible means that hopefully you will have fewer, and they will have less impact on you physically and emotionally. As epilepsy can be difficult to diagnose, seeing a specialist who has training and expertise in epilepsy can help to get a diagnosis, and to discuss the most appropriate treatment options for you.

Get the Charter

Order the fold-out guide through our online shop. The guide shows your care pathway from a first seizure, through diagnosis, treatment and self-management. Or download the Epilepsy charter (PDF, 786.69 kb).