The number of children receiving brain surgery for epilepsy is set to almost treble (triple) under plans for a major expansion of services across England by 2016.
Operations to remove or modify part of the brain can help patients with a drug-resistant strain of the illness – but currently only 125 children a year (In the UK) benefit from the specialist surgery.
Great Ormond Street Hospital is the main centre performing these procedures, but from November existing services will be developed in Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, the NHS announced.
The move is expected to enable doctors to treat three times as many children as they currently do, with about 350 to benefit by 2015-16.
When referred to these services, a child will undergo a series of specialist investigations and assessments to determine whether they are suitable for the surgery, which prevents epileptic seizure in up to 80% of cases.
NHS Specialised Services said it could not provide a specific figure for how much the expansion would cost, but said money would be saved in the long run.
A spokesman said: “Savings will accrue to the NHS from subsequent reduced accident and emergency visits, in-patient stays and long-term drug treatment. The children and their families will benefit significantly.”
Epilepsy experts and charities welcomed the announcement.
Professor Helen Cross, the Prince of Wales’s chairwoman of childhood epilepsy at Great Ormond Street, said: “Having four expert services across the country will enable us to make this surgery available to far more children, as well as reduce current waiting times for assessment for possible surgery.”
Epilepsy Action deputy chief executive Simon Wigglesworth said: “This is a huge move forward that will help build skills and expertise in the field of epilepsy. Most importantly, it will give more children with difficult-to-control epilepsy a chance to have surgery which could significantly impact on their quality of lives.”
Copyright © 2012 The Press Association. All rights reserved. VIA Google Hosted news.