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NHS migraine kit to prevent ‘thousands’ of hospital stays

The NHS has announced a new “Headache and Migraine Toolkit”, with hopes of avoiding up to 16,500 emergency hospital admissions every year.

The organisation says that patients suffering with migraines will benefit from better diagnosis and care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, to improve local health services.

As it stands around 10 million people aged 15-69 in the UK suffer from migraines, which are classified as a disabling illness, while headaches are amongst the most common neurological reasons for attending A&E.

On top of this, NHS Digital data shows that the number of admissions to hospitals in England for headaches and migraines has increased by 14% over the last five years – increasing from 95,548 emergency admissions in 2014/15 to 108,711 emergency admissions in 2018/19.

In total, it is estimated that the NHS spends around £150 million per year on treating migraines and £250 million on care for headache sufferers.

Headaches and migraines can place a “heavy burden on sufferers, the NHS and the wider economy,” explained Hugh McCaughey, NHS national director for improvement.

“But, we know that there are local health services which are doing really well in meeting people’s needs early in the community, and therefore reducing the need for hospital care.

“As they work with staff, patients and local partners to implement the NHS Long Term Plan, this initiative will provide all local NHS leaders with the information and proven ideas they need to deliver high-quality headache and migraine services to every communities.”

In July last year The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that using GammaCore in addition to standard care (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan and oxygen) could save the NHS £450 per patient in the first year compared to standard care alone.

As a results, the technology is now being made available on prescription for the one in 20 people who do not respond to traditional treatments such as painkillers, oxygen or anticonvulsants.