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NICE issues new draft guidance on epilepsy

GPs should never initiate anti-epilepsy drug treatment without the recommendation of a specialist, according to new draft guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

The draft guidance ­ which follows a damning national audit on epilepsy services by NICE last May ­ says continuing responsibility for prescribing can be taken by GPs but a specialist should always be involved in the initial treatment decision.

The guidance urged GPs to review epilepsy patients at least annually, including an inquiry about side-effects and compliance with treatment plans.

But indiscriminate, regular monitoring of anti-epilepsy drug blood levels is not recommended and should only be considered in specific circumstances such as pregnancy.

Dr David Finnigan, a Newcastle GP and member of the group that wrote the guidance, said the advice complemented the epilepsy care targets in the new contract.

He added: 'Anything that pulls together the evidence base for different types of treatment, patient information and follow-up monitoring is helpful. There has been a lot of uncertainty out there.'

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