Epilepsy Society and London South Bank University jointly presented its first ever healthcare professionals conference designed to help shape epilepsy services and ensure the best outcomes for people with epilepsy. The event delivered expert talks and successful strategies for patient involvement, and facilitated the interactive sharing of models of best practice.

Held at London South Bank University, Deborah Wheeler, Regional Head of Quality Assurance (South), NHS England gave the first keynote address. Her lecture ‘compassion in practice – the national vision for nursing’ was most apt in light of the fact that the conference was held on the 65th birthday of the NHS. She spoke as a mother and as a healthcare professional  about how the NHS should be about people. She said the six Cs; Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment should be the vision for future healthcare.

Epilepsy Society’s medical director, Professor Ley Sander, set the epilepsy scene, he said the time is right for a major conceptual breakthrough in research into and treatment of the condition.

Pioneering genetic research alongside our greater understanding of the co-existence or co-morbidity of epilepsy with other disorders, should lead to a more holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Professor Sander said that for too long clinicians and scientists had missed the somatic co-morbidity of epilepsy alongside psychiatric co-morbidities.

Supporting individuals in their treatment choices and promoting medicine adherence was the plenary given by Anthony Linklater, Epilepsy Specialist Nurse at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

He said the shift of power of balance to the patient was needed, with person centred care and whole person care being at the forefront.

Speaking about medication he said talking it long term is very difficult, AEDs can be especially difficult with hard to follow directions for use.  Consequences of non adherence include worse seizure control, increased risk of seizures resulting in unnecessary and  expensive use of NHS services and more disruption impacting on the individual’s life. Clinicians tend to overestimate adherence, but patients using medication reminders had fewer seizures resulting in less admissions to A&E.

Dr Alison Leary, Reader in Advanced Nursing Practice at LSBU spoke about the value of nurse specialists in long term conditions.  She spoke about her work modelling complex systems, specialising in pattern recognition and data mining including workforce modelling in healthcare and economic cost-benefit analysis.

Delegates also had the opportunity to attend two of four breakout sessions which covered ‘Commissioning effective epilepsy services: sharing best practice’, given by Julie Richardson, Deputy Director of Services, Epilepsy Society; ‘Emergency medication in the community: sharing experiences and best practice’,  given by Jennifer Nightingale, Epilepsy Specialist Nurse at Epilepsy Society;  ‘Epilepsy-specific social work issues’, given by Sally Garrett Smith, Social Worker at Epilepsy Society; and ‘Motivational interviewing and the challenges of the 10 minute appointment’, given by Professor Jane Wills at London South Bank University.

This first joint conference by Epilepsy Society and LSBU was both interesting and thought- provoking, and delegates gave positive feedback with 100 percent saying they would attend again. In short: an excellent day with excellent speakers.