Why does the National Migraine Centre exist? Doesn't the NHS treat headaches?

A recent Guardian online article prompts this blog but it is a question I often get asked: Can't people with headaches see their GP?

Yes ideally 90% of headache care should be at this level. However they are 'general' practitioners and the clue is in the name. They can help some people and are a good first point of call, but they lack the knowledge required to best treat and support migraine sufferers, not to mention the time to fully address the problem in a busy clinic. We do our best to train as many GPs in the London area at our evening seminars but there is still a place for specialist centres such as ours to deal with those not getting the help they need from their GP or neurologist, who may just rule out anything sinister and offer little expertise on migraine.

An extract from the article: (link to full article below) _____________________________________________________________

I have often wondered how medical charities fit in nowadays with the NHS establishment. Surely they are now redundant, because the state does it all. I find that it hasn't happened that way. Medical charities have burgeoned. And it is often because clinicians in various disciplines still feel that the establishment has got it wrong, and there is need to keep the pure flame alive, and to hell with NHS group-think.

Dr Giles Elrington, a consultant neurologist, who has recently become director of the National Migraine Centre, one of several headache charities, is one of these. He believes very strongly that the establishment has got the treatment of migraine wrong: "Too many pain killers and brain scans. Taking ten pain killers a month actually worsens migraine."

He believes that "a lot of NHS care is poor because the government has provided an inappropriate model of care: diagnose-treat-discharge".

He sees the correct model as iterative: "diagnose-treat-review-think again-rediagnose etc". Many of his patients achieve their best therapy over time.

To me he seems to be the kind of stroppy innovative clinician, who could make the new NHS work.

He sees his task at the Migraine centre to be not just research but treating patients from all over the UK and abroad, who do not get appropriate treatment in other bits of the NHS. More importantly, he sees his centre as a training resource for other healthcare professionals to learn to handle migraine sufferers. He contends that, given the right training, "you don't need to be a specialist to treat migraine well. This is well within the capability of any GP."

He sees his centre as part of the "big society", very much a player in the any qualified provider game. And he is not a nasty private sector contender. He is "third sector" or a social enterprise – as are many of the other medical charities.

GP commissioners, please note; his centre could make you expert in the treatment of migraines, and make your patients very happy at less cost than sending them to expensive hospitals.

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So, there is a place for us afterall. But only you will know if and when you need our specialist help. We hope that one day there won't be a need for us because everyone is getting fantastic treatment on the NHS but until that time we are here for you.

To book an appointment visit NationalMigraineCentre.org.uk.

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Full article here: apps.facebook.com/theguardi...

4 Replies

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  • I think the NHS has very little training in such matters. I ended referring my own child to your services, feeling that more detail would be involved. The name of your organization kept coming up, as I searched for answers. Mary F

  • We are doing our best to share our knowledge but funding is always a problem for us. Training costs! I'm glad you found National Migraine Centre though. Keep spreading the word!

  • Yes, notes now loaded on all forum I am either working on, or a member of! Mary F

  • Finding the National Migraine Centre has changed my life! I realised pretty quickly that my GP was way out of their depth and I can not tell you how often it has become clear to me over the years that I know more about migraine than a GP does. I know this is a gross over statement, and most GP's are wonderful and should be the first port of call, but a lot of them do stop people getting the right treatment for migraines simply because they just aren't educated properly in up to date migraine treatment and strategies. So I think it is fabulous that you can self refer to the National Migraine Centre!

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