Belfast Telegraph

Epilepsy services review under way as parents hit out

By Brendan McDaid

A review of services for people with epilepsy in the north west has been confirmed after parents in Londonderry expressed outrage at the lack of resources.

Yesterday, The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) confirmed it is working with the Western Trust to review provision on neurology services in the area.

It comes after parents described having to bring their children to Belfast for ECG scans as there was no provision at Altnagelvin.

Bríd Cutliffe, whose daughter Aoibh takes up to 20 fits a day, said it was shocking there was only one part-time specialist nurse in the city dealing with between 200 and 300 children in the city.

Derry City Council’s policy and resources committee backed the parents’ call for an immediate review of the number of paediatric consultants and nursing staff who specialise in epilepsy.

SDLP councillor Ann Donnelly said: “I am very, very angry. When I started nursing in 1966 the care of children with epilepsy was much better than it is now. There should be a care plan. It is a |disgrace that young children or anybody with epilepsy has to travel to Belfast for ECG.”

The Department for Health said it was up to the HSCB, as commissioner of services, “to prioritise and allocate resources to meet the needs of the population, including those with epilepsy”.

Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson for the HSCB said it was “working with the Western HSC Trust to ensure high-quality provision of services for children with epilepsy in the Western Trust area.”

The spokesperson said: “In 2008/9 a significant investment of £370,000 was made in specialist paediatric epilepsy services at a regional level to establish a multi-disciplinary paediatric epilepsy service across NI. Additional funding was also invested to support local service improvement across all trusts for children with complex care needs.

“The board is continuing to work with the Western Trust to further review local provision of neurology services including the potential for ECG services for the west. Work is planned for autumn to support the co-ordination of the patient journey by developing agreed patient pathways and networks.”

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