Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP calls for improvements in headache services

12.00.00am GMT Wed 18th Jan 2006


Stephen Williams, MP has joined 67 fellow MPs to support an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons to draw attention to the experiences of people with disabling primary headache, including migraine and cluster headache, and to urge the government to ensure that NHS resources are utilised effectively to provide optimum management for these patients.

Ann Turner, Director of Headache UK, an umbrella group representing the 5 national charities working in headache thanked MPs for their support, commenting: "Disabling primary headache affects around 15% of the UK population. It can have a huge impact on the quality of life of sufferers and costs the economy around £1billion per annum. The World Health Organisation has recognised migraine as amongst the top 20 most disabling lifetime conditions in terms of disability affected life years but it remains a Cinderella condition with an estimated 50- 60% of sufferers not being given access to the many effective treatments now available"

Mr Williams recognises that around 12,205 of his constituents suffer from these painful and debilitating conditions and supports the efforts of HUK and the APPG to improve education, raise awareness and ensure that all sufferers receive appropriate treatment, commenting: "I am happy to support this cause which is so often a hidden need of my constituents; I am glad to add my voice and support calling for the improvement of the services to be better targeted for managing their serious headache disorders."

A recent survey conducted by Headache UK on the impact of disabling primary headache in the workplace revealed that 53% of the 3,000 respondents felt that their headache had adversely affected their career, 30% said that it had affected their education and 4% had lost their jobs because of their condition (the national average for involuntarily leaving a job is 1.1 - 1.4%).

Andy Dowson, Chairman of Migraine in Primary Care Advisors and Director of Headache Services at Kings College Hospital, London pointed out: " These conditions can now be effectively managed with the wide range of treatments now available but, unlike other chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, there is no targeted NHS funding for GPs to treat headache patients. As a result patients often get referred to already overstretched hospital neurology departments. Better targeting of resources to treat headache patients at primary care level would improve outcomes for patients and relieve pressure on secondary care neurology services. "

Stephen Williams continued "NHS resources are finite and the government must ensure that they are used appropriately to give maximum benefit to patients. Primary headache is an area ideally suited to encouraging patients to take control of their own condition with appropriate support from the primary healthcare team"

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