HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc153-4W
Jane Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what efforts are being made by his Department to raise awareness of epilepsy as a life threatening condition. [56497]

Jacqui Smith

The Department has already undertaken a range of initiatives to raise awareness of epilepsy. For example, we haveSupported the epilepsy advisory board to produce "Epilepsy Care—Making it Happen", a tool-kit and source of information designed to improve epilepsy services. Commended the clinical standards advisory group (CSAG) report "Services for patients with epilepsy" to the NHS. Provided government funding to the joint epilepsy council (JEC) to undertake a project to draw upon the good practice advice in the CSAG report and other recent epilepsy initiatives. The JEC launched its "National Statement of Good Practice for the Treatment and Care of People who have Epilepsy" in May 2002. Supported the national sentinel audit into epilepsy related death which is being published in May 2002. Published the chief medical officer's (CMG) Annual Report 2001, on the state of the public health, which included a chapter on epilepsy, "Epilepsy—death in the shadows". The report makes a commitment to putting in place an action plan to lower the number of preventable deaths from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy within three months of publication of the sudden unexpected death in epilepsy audit.

We will continue to raise awareness of epilepsy and are working with the NHS Modernisation Agency to see how its programmes of work could help with this.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is developing a clinical guideline for the diagnosis, management and treatment of epilepsy to help address widespread variations in clinical practice and contribute to the improvement of services. This will be supported by an appraisal of the clinical and cost effectiveness of new anti-epileptic drugs in children and adults, to help promote appropriate uptake and equitable access.

People with epilepsy will also benefit from the expert patients programme, which aims to provide training in self-management skills for people with long term chronic conditions. The first pilot phase in selected primary care group and trust sites will include people with epilepsy.

These initiatives will contribute to raising awareness of epilepsy and specific trigger factors.

Dr. Evan Harris

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish the action plan on Epilepsy Death recommended in the Chief Medical Officer's report 2001. [56669]

Jacqui Smith

The Department will consider the findings of the national sentinel audit of epilepsy related death, which is being published on 20 May 2002. We expect to develop and put in place an action plan to reduce the number of avoidable deaths from epilepsy within three months of publication of the audit report.