8th May 2019

Calls for headache service in Lothian to be urgently re-established

Detrimental impact on patients revealed

Calls for the re-establishment of a headache service in Lothian are being made this week as the impact of a lack of specialist headache support has been revealed.

The Migraine Trust and a group of people with migraine met with Miles Briggs MSP in the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood to discuss the problem. Mr Briggs, who sits on the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament, spoke about his experience of migraine which he experienced regularly as a teenager.

He heard from migraine patients about how the lack of a specialist service was impacting on them. From decisions about when to have children to coping with work, the lack of specialist migraine help in Lothian is having a serious effect on their lives.

Miles Briggs MSP with Helen Balami and Una Farrell from The Migraine Trust, and some of the patients affected by the discontinuation of the Lothian headache service

Termination of headache service

Scotland used to have three specialist headache centres – in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, but the Edinburgh service was terminated last year. This has left its previous patients without continuity of care. It has also meant that new patients who require secondary specialist care are unable to receive the help they need. Some patients are having to go to private providers to access treatment. However, many do not have the funds to do this and so are being deprived of treatment available in other regions within Scotland.

The Migraine Trust and migraine patients are now calling for NHS Lothian to develop an action plan to re-establish a headache service in Lothian.

Helen Balami, who runs The Migraine Trust’s advocacy service, said:

“Specialist secondary care is very important for migraine that are hard to treat. These are the cases where migraine is having a particularly detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life and effective treatment is therefore crucial.”

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs will be addressing the problem and said:

“Migraine can be debilitating for people who suffer from them and people who need specialist support must be able to access it.

“There is currently a specialist headache service postcode lottery in Scotland and I fully support the re-establishment of the service in Lothian, so that people can get the support that is available to people in other parts of the country.

“The lack of specialist headache support services in NHS Lothian is unacceptable and I will be raising the issue with NHS Lothian.”