A new national centre of excellence for the treatment of epilepsy in Scotland, which integrates health care with social care, has recorded a 100% success rate in its first year.
The William Quarrier Scottish Epilepsy Centre (WQSEC), a not-for-profit partnership between charity Quarriers and the NHS, welcomed 96 patients in the 12 months after opening in April 2013, its first annual report has revealed.
During 2013/14 the centre enjoyed a 100% success rate in transforming lives through accurate diagnosis, including being more accessible for people with disabilities (27% of patients).
A devastating, sometimes fatal, neurological condition, it is expected more than 2,000 Scots will this year be told they have epilepsy. The WQSEC has capacity to accommodate up to 170 patients annually while over the lifetime of the building the centre will transform more than 10,000 lives and reduce deaths.
The first anniversary of the WQSEC was marked with a special patient celebration event attended by around a third of those admitted to the centre during its first year.
Gerard Gahagan, head of Epilepsy Services at WQSEC, says: “We are extremely proud of what has been achieved in our first year, with the voluntary sector and NHS working together so effectively to deliver a world-class centre of excellence.
“While patients benefit from clinical innovation, quality of care, and long-term improvements leading to better lives, health boards have experienced reduced waiting lists, a reduced drugs bill and less pressure on Accident & Emergency, inpatient beds and outpatient clinics.
“What sets the WQSEC apart, however, is the ability to diagnose the most complex cases; those that are particularly severe, or where there are issues that complicate diagnosis such as disabilities or psychological problems. This ability has been taken to a new level with our new, world-leading Video Observation System diagnostic technology and the design features of the new building itself.
“These capabilities have attracted significant interest from European clinicians who consider the WQSEC to be a model they could replicate across the continent. The fact that Scotland hosts this centre of excellence is being noticed internationally and there are opportunities for research of international significance.”
He adds: “For so many of our patients to return to join in a celebration is a demonstration of the centre’s people-centred approach and strong patient participation and engagement.”
The WQSEC is also improving knowledge and understanding of epilepsy, with more than 450 medical students now being trained at the centre throughout the year. The centre and its team has hosted an international conference – Challenging Epilepsy – attended by 100 practitioners, pioneered a research programme with the University of Glasgow and chaired the government’s National Neurological Advisory Group Epilepsy team. It also has outreach services which help people across the country while epilepsy awareness days have been organised at for companies and public sector bodies.
Importantly, another of WQSEC’s key objectives has been met with a marked increase in admissions from outwith West of Scotland reflecting the national status. Since opening, patients being referred to the centre from other parts of Scotland now represent 39% of all admissions, compared with 30% last year and 25% the year before (to the previous facility).
Reasons for referral are as follows:
· To clarify diagnosis – 68%
· To review medication – 13%
· To clarify seizures – 13%
· For video-telemetry only – 3%
· To investigate sleep issues – 3%
Diagnoses found that 49% of patients had epilepsy, 27% had non-epileptic seizures while 24% had a complex mixture of both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures which can be very difficult to diagnose. With these diagnoses, the WQSEC is able to provide treatment tailored to each individual, improving seizure control, or reducing the powerful side-effects of drugs by rationalising medication. In every case, treatment radically increases quality of life, while in many cases, it is life-saving.
Bill Scott, Patron of the Scottish Epilepsy Centre, says: “Having finished the construction of the William Quarrier Scottish Epilepsy Centre, it could be tempting to sit back in satisfaction with a job well done. However, 54,000 Scots live daily with this cruel condition. Lives continue to be shattered by epilepsy and the social and economic cost is huge.
“The WQSEC was conceived and designed to meet this crisis. With the completion of the WQSEC, Quarriers has not only the platform, but indeed an obligation to strive to improve outcomes for all people with epilepsy in Scotland.
“With its world-class facilities, European treatment and diagnostic leadership the WQSEC will certainly transform hundreds of lives each year. We will use this as a catalyst which, combined with policy influencing, research and training programmes, will contribute to the delivery of improved life-changing services to tens of thousands in Scotland and beyond.
“In this way, the WQSEC is not the end of our ambition. In fact, it’s just the beginning.”