There should be more specialist headache nurses to help tackle the growing number of patients suffering from migraines, MPs have said.
There are a “mere” 11 specialist nurses in the field, despite the number of migraine sufferers in England hitting 6.7 million, said the All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders.
They also called for more specialist clinics to deal with headaches, saying that so far there are only 37.
“There are large gains to be made by treating headache appropriately for the patient, the NHS, the economy, and wider society”
They said that the millions of migraine sufferers could potentially receive better care if the NHS followed a series of steps set out in their report, including a call for better headache training for health workers in the community.
In 2012-13 there were 19,000 emergency admissions for migraine and headache disorders – 12% higher than the previous year, the report says.
MP Jim Fitzpatrick, who served on the panel, said: “This inquiry has highlighted the huge breadth of associated factors and complex considerations that affect the provision of high quality care and the experience of headache sufferers who do, and do not, access clinical support for headache disorders.
“There are large gains to be made by treating headache appropriately for the patient, the NHS, the economy, and wider society.
“We have a significant way to go before the provision of services and support is sufficient to address the burden of primary headache disorders across England.”
Wendy Thomas, chief executive at the charity the Migraine Trust, added: “There is an uneven geographical spread of specialist headache clinics in England. This means that patients across the country do not have equal access to specialist advice and treatment.
“Due to the nature of their condition they may not be able to travel to clinics easily and this can have implications for work and finances.
“There are often long waiting lists to see consultants and the clinics are overstretched and cannot meet the high demand of patients.”