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early access to specialist diagnosis and care

One of the 12 statements in our document, Care and treatment: your rights and choices, covering the rights and services that a person with epilepsy can expect.

Care and treatment: your rights and choices 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 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 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 Care and treatment: your rights and choices

Download the full document Care and treatment: your rights and choices or our quick guide Care and treatment: your rights and choices quick guide summarises the key points