Improved migraine care to spare A&E

Headache and migraine sufferers will benefit from better diagnosis and care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to improve local health services, avoiding up to 16 500 emergency hospital admissions every year, according to NHS England.

The number of admissions to hospitals in England for headaches and migraines has increased by 14% over the last five years, NHS Digital data shows, from 95 548 emergency admissions in 2014/15 to 108 711 emergency admissions in 2018/19. Headaches are amongst the most common neurological reasons for attending A&E.

At the same time, around 2.5 million primary care appointments are linked to headaches and migraines, around 100 000 of which are referred to hospital for further assessment.

According to NHS England, greater use of headache diaries and rapid access to specialist advice for GPs could improve the quality of life of many patients and reduce pressure on acute services.

The NHS is rolling out a new resource, the NHS RightCare Headache and Migraine Toolkit, to help CCGs understand the scale of the problem locally and use evidence-based solutions which improve services for patients, and free up money and staff time.

According to NHS England, practical steps in use in some areas of the country could be used more widely, include headache diaries for patients to help them record the frequency and pattern of their attack, and developing support hotlines for GPs and their teams to access specialist advice.

Those who need long-term care should also be given expert advice on avoiding attacks, including the risks and signs of medication overuse, as well as the chance to develop a personalised care plan that accounts for their work and lifestyle factors, as well as any additional health conditions and risks that may be playing a part.

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