Patients with epilepsy in part of Buckinghamshire are to test new information packs designed by a nurse to help them avoid unnecessary visits to accident and emergency when experiencing a seizure.
The pack contains details of their medical history and will be held by the patient or their carer to help inform South Central Ambulance Service crews when called to a home in the event of a seizure.
“We hope that… the scheme can be rolled out to other parts of the UK as a beacon of best practice”
The aim is to allow the crew to decide whether or not the patient needs to go to A&E or whether they can safely recover at home – avoiding an unnecessary admission and freeing up a hospital bed.
The innovation was the brainchild of Alison Taylor, a Sapphire specialist epilepsy nurse at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Ms Taylor, who is based in Milton Keynes, realised that ambulance crews currently had a difficult choice to make when confronted with a patient experiencing an epileptic seizure.
After discussing her idea with neurology colleagues, she approached the charity Epilepsy Action, which then teamed up with health business Simplyhealth to fund 100 packs for a small pilot study. If all goes well, the aim is to roll out the packs to around 700 patients next year.
The pack contains up-to-date care plans, the last epilepsy clinic letter, any medication changes or plans for medication changes as well as a protocol detailing with drugs to use in emergencies.
General information personalised for the patient would also be included – for example, an emergency contact number for ambulance crews to contact a family member or friend to stay with the patient until they have recovered safely, allowing them to leave.
Additionally, patients will be encouraged to keep all their epilepsy information together so if admitted they can give accurate and up to date information about their condition to inform decision making.
Ms Taylor said: “I am not aware this has ever been done before for patients with epilepsy so it’s a truly innovative idea.
“We hope that through these packs we will be able to avoid admissions and help patients to better manage their condition,” she added.
Peri O’Connor, healthcare projects co-ordinator at Epilepsy Action, said the pilot scheme could make a “real difference” to the lives of patients as well as helping health professionals.
“We hope that the epilepsy packs will have a positive impact on patients’ experience and that the scheme can be rolled out to other parts of the UK as a beacon of best practice,” she said.