Frenchay named national specialist centre for children’s epilepsy surgery

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Frenchay Hospital in Bristol will become one of only four specialist services in England for children’s epilepsy surgery from November 2012.

It means that Frenchay will be providing complex paediatric epilepsy surgery to around a quarter of the population - treating children from across the South West region as well as seeing those from other regions in the UK.

The service will transfer to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – run by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust – in 2014 when inpatient paediatric services move from North Bristol NHS Trust.

Potential surgical cases will be referred by paediatricians and neurologists across the network area covered by the designation.

They will then be assessed and evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of specifically trained and experienced clinicians including paediatric epilepsy neurosurgeons and neurologists, neurophysiologists, neuropsychiatrists, neuroradiologists and specialist epilepsy nurses. 

Those selected for surgery will be looked after by specialist paediatric anaesthetists, theatre nurses and technicians and will receive support from neurophysiology technicians, radiographers, ward nurses, ward teachers, play leaders, speech and occupational therapists.

Currently Frenchay assesses around 40 patients per year on its paediatric epilepsy surgical programme and performs resective epilepsy surgical procedures on about 22 of these children. These numbers are expected to rise following the new designation.

Mike Carter, neurosurgeon and surgical lead for the service, said: “This is fantastic news for Frenchay and indeed for Bristol.

“Epilepsy surgery is increasingly recognised as beneficial in certain children. There is evidence that the earlier children are treated, the better the likely outcomes in terms of the effect of ongoing seizures on their brain development. There are significant advantages in carrying out surgery in children under 5. 

“The aim of the service is to improve uptake and access to epilepsy surgery for children whose epilepsy is drug resistant

“As well as the obvious benefits for patients, this designation offers fantastic opportunities for clinical collaboration across our networks – particularly in terms of research with our partner universities.

“It will result in Bristol becoming a major national and international resource for education and training of doctors and other medical professionals interested in the field of paediatric epilepsy surgery.”

Mark McDaid, Local Area Manager for Epilepsy Action, said: “We’re delighted with today’s announcement and to hear that Frenchay Hospital has been chosen to provide specialist epilepsy surgery for children.

“This is a huge move forward that will help build skills and expertise in the field of epilepsy. Most importantly it will give more children with difficult to control epilepsy a chance to have surgery which could significantly impact on their quality of lives.”

The other centres that will provide surgery are as follows:

Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) withKings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust with Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The expansion of specialist brain surgery and assessment for children with epilepsy is a result of the Safe and Sustainable review of children’s neurosurgical services.

Date of release: May 15 2012