Media Release: Novel health collaboration creates legacy of epilepsy care in NHS Dumfries and Galloway

OVER 1,500 people with epilepsy in NHS Dumfries and Galloway will benefit from better care as local health professionals become more skilled in managing and treating epilepsy, thanks to a unique partnership project by Epilepsy Scotland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and pharma companies, Eisai, GSK, and UCB Pharma.

At tonight’s Parliamentary reception, MSPs and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing will hear how this remarkable collaboration is a win-win situation all round.

Epilepsy Scotland chief executive, Lesslie Young, explained: “The idea to train and mentor practice nurses and GPs as well as clinicians to become epilepsy aware and more expert in dealing with the condition was mooted three years ago.

“This novel collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sector sets a new benchmark in joint working for better healthcare and has led to a project that is unique in the UK.  As this is an original model of cascading epilepsy expertise, the process has not been without its challenges.

“However, the end result of this cross-sector partnership, driven by Epilepsy Scotland, means hundreds of people will have a better quality of care and direct access to local epilepsy services which the NHS board outsourced before. When the project ends in three years’ time, it leaves a legacy of epilepsy care in this area – which is good news.

“Our Epilepsy Specialist Nurse provides a few days a week to upskill health professionals and enable them to deliver an improved service for adults with epilepsy. The NHS board is committing staff time for professional training and mentoring while the pharma companies provide resources and practical support, including IT software to audit and track service improvements and cost effectiveness.

“There is absolutely no financial gain for the private sector here but this initiative helps to meet their goals for better patient-centred treatment.”

Welcoming the move, chief executive, Jeff Ace, said: “This is a milestone collaboration for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, and we are delighted to be working jointly with Epilepsy Scotland and the three pharmaceutical companies.

“We are very much committed to delivering first class care to our patients with epilepsy and ensuring staff have the knowledge and skills to respond to this.

“I am confident that local patients will be delighted too at this joint working.”

Gordon Lundie, UCB’s government affairs and market access director, stated:

“UCB is delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Epilepsy Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Health Board. This innovative proposal allows the research- led pharmaceutical industry to work with our partners to improve the delivery of healthcare and focus on improving outcomes for patients at a time of significant financial challenge.”

A spokesperson from GSK said: “GSK is delighted to be working in partnership with Epilepsy Scotland and NHS Dumfries and Galloway on this important initiative which will benefit the care of people with epilepsy in this area.”


Notes to editor

Notes to editor

1. Photo opportunity at the Innovative Collaboration for Epilepsy Service Reception: Media can attend Committee Room 6 in Holyrood on 26 June from 6.45pm when guest speakers chief executive Lesslie Young (Epilepsy Scotland), Dr Angus Cameron (NHS Dumfries and Galloway), Gordon Lundie (UCB Pharma), Paul Wheelhouse MSP will be available for photos. The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon will be available from 7.30pm. The event is hosted by MSP Humza Yousaf. If you wish to attend the event please contact public affairs officer, Allana Parker, for details so that you can be admitted to the event.

2. Epilepsy Scotland works with people affected by epilepsy to ensure that their voice is heard. We campaign for improved healthcare, better information provision and an end to stigma. This common serious neurological condition affects one in 97 people. We represent the 54,000 people with epilepsy, their families and carers. Our freephone Helpline (0808 800 2200) offers advice, support and information. People can text 07786 209501, email or visit

3. NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland (NHS HIS) recently reviewed all 14 health boards’ performance against set standards for neurology services in Scotland. It found that although NHS Dumfries & Galloway’s service scored well overall, the major outstanding aspect requiring improvement is epilepsy services. (Full report:

4. The project follows two years of planning by representatives from Epilepsy Scotland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and three pharmaceutical companies – UCB Pharma, GlaxoSmithKline and Eisai Ltd. From June this year, Epilepsy Scotland’s own Epilepsy Specialist Nurse has been seconded to the area for three days per week for three years. The nurse will not carry a caseload of patients – but will be developing staff expertise, putting pathways and protocols in place, providing advice and support and creating tools to continue training new staff.

5. In the past, charities or pharma companies have individually supported specialist nurses to carry a case load in a local area. This is the first project to see the NHS, charity sector and pharma companies pooling resources to provide an epilepsy service and, in particular, mentoring and training to staff.

The rural population in this health board area challenges the traditional model of a single nurse specialist based in a hospital setting. This project will test an alternative, by developing the skills of staff already working throughout the region in order to provide better care nearer to patients’ homes as well as making better use of existing resources.

6. Our specialist nurse will train health professionals in epilepsy care across the health board – from GPs and practice nurses to hospital health professionals in acute settings. People will be cared for by clinicians with a greater knowledge of epilepsy and their condition can be well managed locally, by both primary and secondary care.

7. The nurse will also develop guidance for local support groups and work with them to establish a support network. This will empower patients to better manage their epilepsy. Patients will be able to engage with the NHS Board and influence the design of future epilepsy services.

The nurse will develop accessible information for patients and their carers about epilepsy and services available to them both locally and nationally. The pharmaceutical companies will also assist this by providing in-kind support, such as printing of literature and training materials.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway area has a population of 148,500 which equates to 1,531 people (one in 97) with epilepsy.

8. For more details and case studies (Dumfries and Galloway and Borders) please contact: Allana Parker, Public Affairs Officer on: 0141 427 4911 or 07884 012 147.

9. For comments from NHS Dumfries and Galloway and the pharmaceutical companies please contact:

  • John Glover, head of communication, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, on 01387 272767 or 01387 246246 (switchboard), E:
  • Funmi Ahmed-Onibudo, brand communications manager at UCB Pharma on 0175 367 7296, E:
  • Philippa Manning, director, External Communications at GlaxoSmithKline on 0208 990 2982, E:
  • European communications eirector at Eisai on 0845 676 1400.

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