The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published quality standards for the management and care of patients with epilepsy, a central theme of which is improving diagnosis of the condition.

The new quality standards contain a prioritised set of specific statements that, if delivered across the whole care pathway, should help boost the effectiveness, quality, safety and experience of care for people with the condition, NICE said.

For example, adults being investigated for epilepsy should be tested within four weeks, and those diagnosed with the condition should be seen by an epilepsy specialist nurse who is contactable between scheduled reviews.

Children and young people with a suspected seizure should be seen by a specialist in the diagnosis and management of epilepsies within two weeks, while those with a history of prolonged or repeated seizures must have an agreed written emergency care plan, the quality standards advise.

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder in the UK, affecting around 600,000 people. More than 40 different types of epilepsy, with 40 different associated seizure types, have been identified, and the nature of the condition makes it hard to diagnose accurately, leaving patients without access to treatment.

"Therefore, a key part of these new quality standards is focused on improving this, and ensuring that diagnosis and treatment are confirmed and reviewed as necessary," explained Gillian Leng, the Institute's Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care.

According to Simon Wigglesworth, Deputy Chief Executive at Epilepsy Action, many people with epilepsy are simply not getting the care they should, and "if the new standards are implemented consistently and effectively, care for people with epilepsy will be vastly improved".