Epilepsy Service To Improve Patients Quality Of Life

THE number of people with epilepsy in Wales who suffer seizures could be reduced if a new service is rolled out nationwide.

The first service of its kind for people with epilepsy in UK, which has been launched by Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf local health boards, could also minimise the risk of side effects from medication.

The development of the epilepsy support service has seen a team of specialist medical experts holding clinics for people with epilepsy in local GP practices throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The team identifies every patient with epilepsy in the practice and invites them to attend tailored clinics for advice on their medication and management of the condition.

The LHB partnership also provides training for key personnel in the practice and can arrange nursing cover if individuals want to enhance their qualifications in the area, as well as a mentor for those undergoing training in epilepsy care.

The Caerphilly-Rhondda Cynon Taf LHB partnership now hopes that this new service will inform the Assembly Government’s epilepsy strategy by providing valuable feedback and a template for future services.

Helen Earland, senior nurse with the RCT LHB primary care support unit, who project- managed the new service, said, “We wanted to bring specialist expertise to the community which would enhance the quality of care for people with epilepsy on a local level.

“By holding dedicated clinics, we were able to work in partnership with GP practices to identify those patients with epilepsy who would benefit from the service.

“We were able to review medication and advise on required prescription changes, we referred patients for consultant appointments if necessary, but we were also able to avoid inappropriate hospital referrals by providing specialist guidance on a local level. By reducing seizures and the side effects associated with epilepsy medication, the new service helps individuals to participate in everyday activities, thus enhancing their quality of life.”

Almost 300 patients and 11 GP practices in Rhondda Cynon Taf benefited from the service, which is seen as an exemplar for the provision of epilepsy care in local GP practices.

Melanie Davies, a mother of two from Aberdare, has been a patient of the new service.

The 29-year-old, who works for the local Youth Offending Service, said, “It gives me an opportunity to stay local – it’s quite difficult when you are epileptic to get to the service in Cardiff because you can’t drive.

“Having a community service is tremendous, it’s a more personal service and you get to know the epilepsy nurses.

“The staff have also met my husband and spoken to him about the different aspects of how to deal with an emergency. This has been really good and something that hasn’t happened before.”

A report by the teaching LHBs has recommended that the service now employs a nurse with epilepsy qualifications, to carry out clinical and educational sessions across primary care in relation to epilepsy – targeting both patients and clinicians.

The role of a specialist epilepsy nurse has already been approved by the two LHBs and interviews for the post will be held in April.

The report also recommended that an intermediate clinic is set up to allow clinicians to refer for advice on future management, thereby reducing inappropriate referrals to secondary care.

And an educational package, that local clinicians can access to help improve clinical management of epilepsy across primary care, should also be introduced.

Ms Earland said, “As a teaching LHB we are also very keen to encourage training and development and, therefore, offered every opportunity for people in the practice to develop their skills in this field.

“We were delighted with the level of interest and look forward to developing this further with local clinicians.”

Epilepsy Action will hold a public seminar about the use of generic medicines in Cardiff on April 7.

The Does changing the name of the drug matter? seminar will include a talk by Malisa Pierri, an epilepsy specialist nurse at the University Hospital of Wales.

The event is open to anyone with an interest in epilepsy.

Ann Reynolds, regional services manager for Wales, said, “Over the years, many people have contacted Epilepsy Action to report that, having been given a different brand of their anti-epileptic drug, their health has been affected.”

To find out more about the event, which starts at 6.30pm at the Cardiff Quaker Meeting House, 43 Charles Street, Cardiff, or to book a place contact Ann Reynolds on 01633 253 407.