South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has written to local NHS Chief, Nick Morris, to challenge his reasons for failing to back a campaign to appoint a clinical nurse specialist for children with epilepsy in Dumfries and Galloway.
NHS D&G is the only health board area in Scotland that doesn’t employ a dedicated paediatric epilepsy nurse. This is despite claims by Epilepsy Scotland, Epilepsy Action and the Royal College of Nursing that the role is essential for children with the condition,
The SNP MSP had teamed up with local parents of children with epilepsy to campaign for the appointment of the nurse. But Mr Morris, the Chairman of NHS Dumfries & Galloway, says the role is unnecessary because they already employ a hospital based Community Children’s Nurse who has had training in epilepsy.
The group of parents who established the campaign disagree. They say the CNN has been unable to offer them the level of care that their children require with some of them yet to have any contact at all. Others say CCN’s are in no way trained to the level of a specialist paediatric nurse and are unable to offer the kind of direct support relationship with them that a specialist nurse could.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,
“I’ve written to Mr Morris to ask him to meet with the parents. Children’s services in NHS Dumfries and Galloway are currently undertaking a service needs analysis and the meeting would be beneficial in contributing towards this analysis.
“Mr Morris has claimed that only 20 children in the region require access to a Community Children’s Nurse out of an estimated 40 to 50 who have epilepsy. However, Epilepsy Scotland dispute that figure. They say it’s more like 150 children in Dumfries & Galloway who are suffering from the condition.
“I’m very concerned that the figures being quoted by the health board are being disputed by both people with lived experience and the main epilepsy charity, and believe more work needs to be done on this. But even if the NHS is correct it’s still unacceptable that only twenty children have a healthcare plan in relation to rescue medication in epilepsy or for managing seizures, when potentially a lot more require them.”
“I’ve also written to the Scottish Health Secretary, Jeanne Freeman, to ask for her support. The need for a specialist nurse in our region is even more acute than in other areas of the country because the consultant paediatric neurologist who specialises in epilepsy is based in Glasgow and only visits the region every few months. Also, Scottish Borders have their own paediatric epilepsy nurse despite having an even smaller population than Dumfries and Galloway.”