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6 March 2019

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People in the North West Coast with epilepsy will avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital thanks to a project giving paramedics instant access to their patient information.

Epilepsy is estimated to affect more than 500,000 people in the UK, and more than 57,000 in the North West Coast. Following a seizure, paramedics will often convey people to hospital unnecessarily. The person may have had epilepsy for a number of years and all they need is a safe place to recover, to take their rescue medication and for a family member to be informed.

When patients are taken to A&E, staff do not have access to their medical information, resulting in unnecessary admissions, investigations and potential treatment errors.

To address this, Liverpool Health Partners is working on a project that has received a funding boost from UK Research and Innovation - PED4PED - People with Epilepsy Sharing Data for Care with Paramedics and the Emergency Department.

The project aims to connect patient information from GPs, hospitals and ambulance services in the North West Coast and make it available to paramedics and A&E staff when they are called to epilepsy patients requiring urgent care.

It builds on the work by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, to transform health services by improving access to patient data.

A team at the University of Liverpool has been working with NHS staff including paramedics, patients, neurologists and A&E representatives to identify what type of data should be available to paramedics and A&E staff. This may include confirmation of diagnosis, usual seizure type, rescue medicine protocol, next of kin or place of safety.

The project could be life-changing for people involved, improving care for people with epilepsy whilst creating cost savings and better ways of working in the NHS.

Leading the initiative is Professor of Neurology, Tony Marson, from the university’s Institute of Translational Medicine who also leads the Liverpool Epilepsy Research Group, as well as numerous epilepsy and neurological organisations.

Partners in the project include the University of Liverpool, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Epilepsy Action and Forcare.

The project is one of ten innovations in the UK to receive a share of £3 million government funding from UK Research and Innovation.

The UK has some of the richest health data of anywhere in the world, yet it is fragmented, and its potential to improve lives is often untapped.

Health Data Research UK challenged the NHS, universities and companies to combine their expertise to create ‘Sprint Exemplar Innovation Projects’ using data to drive innovation and improve health outcomes for people across the UK. 

The University of Liverpool received a £214k boost to develop its innovative health data project to improve emergency care for people with epilepsy.

Professor Marson said: “This is a great opportunity to show what can be achieved by partners working together in Liverpool, making data available at the point of need to improve outcomes and efficiency. Whilst this project focuses on epilepsy, the learning will be scalable across healthcare.”

Mike Jackson, Chief Consultant Paramedic for North West Ambulance Service, added: “As a trust we are dedicated to making sure that we give our patients the right care for them in the best possible place.

“The idea of the project is that by making additional information accessible for our ambulance clinicians, they will be able to make more informed decisions based on the patient’s medical history. This means that if the patient could benefit more from care in the community, unnecessary A&E admissions can be avoided which in turn will free up vital emergency resources.

“We are extremely pleased that this funding has been awarded for the project and always welcome new ways of working which can help us provide better care for our patients.”

Prof Marson is the Lead for Connected Health Cities (CHC) in the North West Coast, a programme being delivered by the Innovation Agency, AIMES Grid Services, the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster University and clinical colleagues across the NHS.

The University of Liverpool’s PED4PED project builds on the work carried out by CHC which aims to harness the power of data by collecting, linking and analysing patient information from health and social care, and eventually from a wide range of other sources, to transform care.

Initially, the pilot programme is focusing on three conditions which are a priority in the North West Coast – epilepsy, alcoholic liver disease and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – but could be rolled out to include other health conditions.

Dr Julia Reynolds, Associate Director at the Innovation Agency said: “This is a great boost for our work in developing a more mature approach to using information effectively for the benefit of patient care.

“It is also a fantastic development for our aspirations to develop a learning health system which can provide real-time data that can be accessed by front-line health and care professionals.”

For more information on the epilepsy initiative, please contact a.g.marson@liv.ac.uk

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