Journalism Award Exposes 'Poor Epilepsy Care'

The scandal of missed diagnosis and inadequate epilepsy services featured by Fiona Duffy in the Daily Mirror makes her Epilepsy Scotland’s Journalist of the Year.  Her acceptance speech and award-winning article highlighted the impact of poor epilepsy care to nearly 200 corporate guests at the charity’s Edinburgh Wags fundraising event last night hosted by River City actress Joyce Falconer.

Fiona Duffy’s portrayal of a young woman’s long journey to get a correct epilepsy diagnosis was powerful, positive and compellingly told.  It won the votes of this year’s judging panel which included the charity’s patron Baroness Veronica Linklater, TV and radio broadcaster Cathy MacDonald, Scottish National Union of Journalists Secretary Paul Holleran and BBC Scotland’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Atholl Duncan.  Highly commended was runner-up Nan Spowart who showcased two high-profile people’s stories in the Herald article, ‘Epilepsy being no barrier at work.’

Features writer Fiona Duffy remarked:” My job involves writing lots of articles but I’m particularly proud of this story. I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years but had no idea that epilepsy was such an overlooked condition.  So the more people like me can do to raise awareness the better.”

The overall high standard from among 26 entries made it hard to select the winner.  However, Fiona Duffy’s article shone for Cathy MacDonald while Veronica Linklater said, “It was hard-hitting, well-written, action-packed, and full of facts – much the best.”  Both Paul Holleran and Atholl Duncan praised Nan Spowart for addressing a major issue for those who have epilepsy. 

Chief Executive Lesslie Young commented: “It means a great deal that a growing number of journalists are writing about epilepsy issues and informing public attitudes through their stories.  There was an impressive crop of entries this year and the more people know about epilepsy the less they will fear it and its stigma will finally end.”

Other short-listed Award entrants included: Laura Coventry (Daily Record), Cassandra Jardine (Daily Telegraph), Barbara Lantin (Scottish Daily Express), Rebecca McQuillan (The Herald), Adam Morris (Edinburgh Evening News) and Tristan Stewart-Robertson (The Scotsman).


Notes to Editor

  1. Photos and interviews:  Epilepsy Scotland's Journalist of the Year Award winner, Fiona Duffy is available for interview.  Contact Epilepsy Scotland for details.


  1. Epilepsy Scotland works with people affected by epilepsy to ensure their voice is heard.  We campaign for improved healthcare, better information provision and an end to stigma.  This common neurological condition affects one in 130 people.  We represent nearly 40,000 people in Scotland with epilepsy, their families and carers. 


  1. 3.       Our freephone Helpline (0808 800 2200) offers advice, support and information.  People can email (, text 07786 209501, or download information from our website:


  1. Fiona Duffy’s article in the Scottish Daily Mirror (Pain like a bolt of lightening was epilepsy, 28.5.09) profiled Susie White from London.  She waited 18 months after a blackout in her 30s before being referred to a neurologist for an accurate diagnosis of epilepsy.  In fact, she had been having seizures and faints from the age of 15 which were not picked up by GPs or hospital staff.  As many as 400 people in the UK may die unnecessarily each year from epilepsy because of a shortage of specialists.  Epilepsy training for health professionals is also patchy across the country.


  1. Previous high-profile judges for our award include broadcasters Lorraine Kelly, Stephen Jardine and Jackie Bird, film maker Richard Jobson, and authors Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Alasdair Gray, Christopher Brookmyre and Bill Paterson.


  1. This is Epilepsy Scotland’s 11th Journalist of the Year award which is endorsed by the Scottish National Union of Journalists.  Previous Journalist of the Year award winners include Louisa Pearson (Scotland on Sunday 2009) and Cassandra Jardine (Daily Telegraph, 2008). 


  1. Guest speakers for the Edinburgh Wags fundraising dinner in the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh included Steven Dick, Patrick Duffy, Isobel Rutter and Bert Thomson.  


  1.  For more details please call: Allana Parker, Communications Manager, Tel: 0141 419 1701   Mobile: 07884 012 147

Website: http://www.