Epilepsy first-aid training to reduce A&E visits

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The University of Liverpool is developing a first-aid training programme for people with epilepsy to support them when they have a seizure and to avoid unnecessary visits to A&E. 

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition in the UK and is typically treated with medication. Even with treatment, a third of individuals continue to have seizures.

A seizure can be a frightening experience. Sometimes the person diagnosed with epilepsy will need to visit A&E and receive medical attention – for example, if their seizure lasts for more than five minutes or they have injured themselves. However, most seizures stop spontaneously, and with rest, recovery can happen without the need for medical attention.

Over 90,000 people visit A&E each year due to epileptic seizures although many of these visits are not necessary and result in inconvenient hospital stays. 

Training programme 

Researchers from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society will develop and assess a training programme for people with epilepsy and their friends and family members to increase their knowledge of the condition, and to give them more confidence to manage seizures.

Their Seizure first Aid training for Epilepsy (SAFE) will be based on a course run by the Epilepsy Society. It will involve small groups of patients and their family and friends being given the latest information and knowledge about seizures and how best to deal with them.

The training course will be piloted with people with epilepsy who have attended Merseyside A&E departments. The results of the trial will be analysed to see if the training helps patients feel more confident to manage seizures and not visit A&E when it is not required.

Gaining confidence

Dr Adam Noble, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who is leading the project, said: “We are developing this training course because people with epilepsy who visit A&E and their family and friends have told us that they do not feel they have sufficient information, or are confident enough,  about what to do when a seizure occurs, and at what point they need to go to A&E this is something they want. 

"This training course has been specifically designed to empower them and provide more confidence to handle seizures.

“This sort of course is not available through the NHS, but the purpose of this project is to find out the impact and effect this will have on patients, and on preventing unnecessary visits to already over-stretched A&E departments.”

The three-year project is supported by the National Institute of Health Research and involves the University of Sheffield, Bangor University and King’s College London.