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New hope for neglected conditions in healthcare

11th October 2010

Jane Hanna, Director of Epilepsy Bereaved, argues that removing NHS targets could save lives.

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Targets in the NHS over the past few years have meant that some areas have been neglected.

But Andrew Lansley’s promised relaxation in the use of targets could be positive news for people with a life-threatening condition.

Epilepsy, for example, does not have a target and since 1993 epilepsy-related deaths in the UK have remained static, reflecting a lack of focus by policy makers.

But in other areas, because of various initiatives and targets, deaths have fallen.

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has found that 40% of epilepsy-related deaths were potentially avoidable through better medical care and treatment.

But people with epilepsy are being denied the help they need.

Drugs for epilepsy are relatively cheap and specialist nurses and specialist GPs can be a cost-effective part of the clinical team but dealing with epilepsy in the community has not benefited from risk management techniques used in other conditions such as asthma.

These deaths could be reduced through more research to develop case management for people with epilepsy at risk of emergency care or premature death.

There has been improvement in care for people with epilepsy and there are areas where, with support from the voluntary sector, services have moved forward.

But primary care practitioners need to be well informed of the issues, especially if they are to be responsible for commissioning epilepsy services in the future.

They must look seriously at the potential for achieving more positive outcomes for patients and a more cost-effective health service.

 

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