Leap Year Proposal for Putting Occupational Health for Epilepsy into Practice

Employers across the UK can now use a free occupational health guide developed by Epilepsy Scotland to help any existing employees or new recruits with epilepsy.  This handy new resource, presented to MPs and Peers in Westminster at a reception hosted by Scottish MP Alan Reid on 29 February, covers legal responsibilities and how to handle the most common workplace issues.

Epilepsy Scotland Chief Executive Lesslie Young explained: “We devised this unique guide to make life easier both for those in HR/Personnel and for employees who develop seizures.  Our helpline callers repeatedly told us of organisations where working practices fell short of providing the best support possible.  This prompted us to partner with occupational health experts in the public, private and voluntary sector and produce this practical tool for employers. 

“This is the UK’s first occupational health guide to epilepsy.   It showcases examples of good practice.  The specific condition guide explains how a prompt and appropriate occupational health assessment, as well as clear communications with an employee, and a customised risk assessment for their duties also benefits the organisation.

“Sixty years ago it was often difficult to find or keep a job if you had epilepsy or it was not well controlled.  Epilepsy is no longer a reason to be excluded from the job market.  We are delighted that the Society of Occupational Medicine sees this innovative guide as an enhancement to good practice.  It is an honour to have MPs and Peers attending our Westminster reception to highlight this novel guide.”


Notes to editor

Photo opportunity

Press can attend Dining Room B in the Palace of Westminster from 12.45pm with guest speakers Chief Executive Lesslie Young (Epilepsy Scotland), Dr Freddie Westbrook (Serco), Chief Inspector Ross Bennet (Fife Constabulary), Chief Executive Hilary Todd (Society of Occupational Medicine) and MP Alan Reid.  Invitations must be carried to gain entrance through security,  Contact Public Affairs Officer Allana Parker for details.

* Epilepsy Scotland works with people affected by epilepsy to ensure that their voice is heard.  We campaign for improved healthcare, better information provision and an end to stigma.  This common serious neurological condition affects one in 97 people.  We represent the 54,000 people with epilepsy, their families and carers.  Our freephone Helpline (0808 800 2200) offers advice, support and information.  People can text 07786 209501, email enquiries@epilepsyscotland.org.uk or visit www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk

* There are an estimated 241,692 people of working age with epilepsy in the UK.  Epilepsy studies into unemployment and underemployment show rate variations of 12-25 per cent against 5-9 per cent for the general population.  People with epilepsy are more likely to be employed in unskilled and manual jobs and these workers are more likely to lose their jobs after seizures start. 

* Research shows employers can be reluctant to hire or promote a person with epilepsy for health and safety reasons.  Epilepsy stigma is another factor, and up to 47 per cent of people with epilepsy report enacted discrimination at work.  Employer and co-worker attitudes critically determine how people with epilepsy are viewed in terms of their employment status.

* The epilepsy and occupational health guide working group included Morag Clark, Clinical Occupational Health Manager (Strathclyde Police)  Dr Katharine Cryer, Consultant Occupational Health Physician and Dr Freddie Westbrook, Consultant Occupational Physician (Serco Occupational Health), Dr Robert Sharpe, Consultant Chartered Psychologist, Dr Frederick G Taylor, Senior Consultant Occupational Physician (Bcerta Occupational Health, Glasgow), Anissa Tonberg, Policy and Development Manager, Christine Whiteside, HR and Office Manager and Lesslie Young, Chief Executive (Epilepsy Scotland).  The Scottish Government and pharma company Eisai supported the guide’s development.  OHNAPs, Serco and UCB Pharma supported the Westminister reception.

* Epilepsy Scotland offers best practice certificates to responsible employers. Employer of the Year winners: Fife Constabulary and the Scottish Parliament.

* For more details and case studies (Glasgow and Fife) please contact: Allana Parker, Communications Manager on: 0141 427 4911 or 07884 012 147.

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