I’m not an epilepsy sufferer, but I know enough people who are to make a report which appears in today’s edition of The Guardian disturbing.
In an era of recession and belt-tightening, you would think the government would leap at opportunities to save money. But according to a forthcoming report by the Joint Epilepsy Council (JEC), the NHS is knowingly squandering £189m a year on ineffective epilepsy services.
A report by the all-party parliamentary group on epilepsy two years ago found that £134m was wasted as a result of misdiagnosis, resulting in 74,000 people taking anti-epileptic drugs they did not need, while £55m was spent on disability benefits that would not be necessary if epilepsy were better treated. The human cost is also high: each year 990 people in England die of epilepsy causes, of which 400 are avoidable. A further 69,000 people have to live with unnecessary seizures. The unemployment rate among people with the condition is nearly double that for other disabilities, and 30,000 children with epilepsy are not doing as well at school as they could.
The report concluded that the cost of improving epilepsy services would be cheaper. But, two years on, the JEC’s new report will say nothing has been done.
The short litany of recommendations that The Guardian reckons have not been implemented makes for depressing reading, especially when one considers that experts are saying that full implementation would actually save the government money.