‘Insufficient resources’ to deal with migraines, neurologist warns

A leading consultant neurologist has said that Ireland urgently needs more healthcare professionals to look after migraine patients.

Maria Bailey TD

Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital was speaking at an event to mark Brain Awareness Week. The information event for Oireachtas members was hosted by Dun Laoghaire TD, Maria Bailey, sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland and supported by the Migraine Association of Ireland and took place in Leinster House.

Mr Ruttledge said: “Migraine is a very common and often debilitating neurological disorder that is underdiagnosed/undertreated by doctors and healthcare professionals worldwide.

“This is particularly the case in Ireland where there are insufficient resources to look after migraine patients. We need more doctors, specialist nurses, other healthcare professionals and headache services to care for this growing patient population. For example, the National Clinical Programme for Neurology recommends that there should be a total of 32 specialist headache nurses in Ireland. There are currently the equivalent of approximately three posts.”

The event brought together legislators, healthcare experts, patients and their representatives to examine how our healthcare service can respond better to the needs of migraine sufferers.

This included a focus on patient access to emerging treatments, used to treat migraine, and the implementation of the HSE’s National Clinical Programme for Neurology, which was launched in 2016.

There are more than a billion people on the planet with migraine and between 600,000 and 700,000 sufferers in Ireland2. On any given day in Ireland over 13,000 people are suffering from migraine – the majority forming part of the workforce3. Migraine is estimated to cost the Irish economy €252 million a year1.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Bailey said: “With so many Irish people impacted by migraine, I felt it was really important to increase awareness of the condition among my colleagues. While Leinster House is filled with politicians who can directly influence policy in terms of improving healthcare services, it is also a workplace where many politicians and staff are likely affected by migraine.

“Migraine can be a really debilitating condition, and even doing basic tasks like speaking can be a struggle when an attack is at its peak. Today’s event is about learning more about the condition and improving our knowledge, but also to get the message out that by staying on top of your condition, knowing the triggers and doing the basics right in terms of sleep, diet and exercise, supported by medicines if required, it is possible to better manage your migraine.”

Clodagh Kevans, Associate Director at Teva Pharmaceuticals, said: “For people living with migraine, diagnosis and treatments are improving. Increasingly there is a greater understanding of the biology of the condition, and this is driving the development of new and emerging treatments that help prevent migraine. “

1. (as of March 2019)
2. Migraine: Diagnosis and Management from a GP Perspective 10 December 2018 Authors: Dr Mary Kearney Dr Martin Ruttledge Ms Esther Tomkins. Page 6
3. (as of March 2019)

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