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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust


The Dorset Epilepsy Service is a county-wide service which aims to provide support and education for people in the county who have epilepsy – estimated to be up to 7,500 people.

The service provides clinics across the county, including ‘first seizure’ clinics for the 375 people newly diagnosed with epilepsy locally each year. Care is provided by a team of expert staff, including a consultant neurologist and two specialist epilepsy nurses.

The team are based at Poole Hospital but work across the county to provide support in clinics and community settings. They also work closely with GPs and community-based teams to ensure adequate support for the long-term care of people with epilepsy.

About epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition in the world and affects 600,000 people in the UK, of all ages and from all walks of life. It is estimated that 70% of the population with epilepsy in the UK could be seizure free with optimal treatment – currently, that figure is nearer to 50%. 1,000 people in the UK die every year of epilepsy related causes and it is thought that 400 of those deaths per year are avoidable.

Living with epilepsy

Sheila Danks is 57 and lives in Corfe Mullen, near Wimborne. She was diagnosed with complex partial epilepsy – the most common type of epilepsy – at the age of five.

Over 50 years on, Sheila still suffers up to twelve seizures a month, sometimes more, but she refuses to let her condition rule her life: “Epilepsy is very unpredictable but this is all part and parcel of the condition,” she says. “I don’t look upon my epilepsy as a disability - more of a little pest! I won’t let seizures rule my everyday life, and I look at this in a positive manner by safely deciding when, where, what and how I will do things… why should I let the possibility of a seizure occurring prevent me from going somewhere?”

Now a volunteer with the National Society for Epilepsy, Sheila has a positive message to give to people who might have just been diagnosed with the condition: “It can be daunting, frightening and scary being told you have epilepsy, and it can make you feel like the bottom has fallen out of your world. Thankfully, there’s lots of help out there - different web sites, epilepsy nurses, forums etc. Try to speak to other people who also have epilepsy - this can prove informative but also comforting, as you will know you’re not the only person out there with this unpredictable condition.”

She also has some advice for people learning to live with epilepsy: “Try to live as normal a life as possible. Look after yourself, take your medication regularly as prescribed and try to achieve a regular sleep pattern. Keep a diary so you know when and how often you have seizures.”

”Try not to let people stigmatise or discriminate against you,” she adds. “Offer to educate them instead so when they ever meet somebody else with epilepsy, they will be better informed.”

The epilepsy service is staffed by a specialist team including epilepsy nurses and a consultant neurologist

Children & Young People's Epilepsy Service

See our children’s health service section for more information

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