Neurological conditions can be life threatening, and most of them severely affect people’s quality of life. Caring for someone with a debilitating illness often means that carers have to give up their own employment, in addition to the person with the condition being unable to continue to be economically active. This will have a devastating impact on the family’s economic situation.
Long term neurological conditions include epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but also include genetic conditions which can be inherited such as Huntington’s disease.
Some neurological conditions can present at any time in life and remain, such as epilepsy. Epilepsy can impact on an individual’s independence and ability to work as poorly controlled epilepsy can preclude an individual from driving or undertaking some forms of employment.
The prevalence of epilepsy in the 18+ age group in practices forming the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group for 2010-2011 was unchanged from the 2009-2010 prevalence of 0.7%. This would correspond to approximately 1,400 individuals, 77.8% of whom had been free of seizures for 12 or more months (Public Health England). This has dropped slightly compared to the 2009-2010 value of 78.8% but not significantly so.
Multiple sclerosis is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 years, although it can present at other ages. Multiple sclerosis affects individuals in different ways and limits activities to varying degrees leading to varying health and social care requirements. It is estimated that 120 per 100,000 of the population of England and Wales are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (The MS Trust and The Royal College of Physicians, 2011). Applying this estimated prevalence to the population of York would suggest that there are approximately 243 individuals living with multiple sclerosis in the City.
Given the projected increase in the proportion of the population over the age of 65 years, neurological conditions that increase in prevalence with increasing age are of interest. Individuals with these conditions are likely to have increased social care requirements compared to similarly aged disease-free individuals. Parkinson’s disease is one of the conditions that would fall into this category, although there are others.
The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the City of York is not known, although Parkinson’s UK have undertaken some research and have estimated the national prevalence to be between 269 and 280 per 100,000 of the population (Parkinson’s UK, 2009). This would correspond to approximately 545 to 567 individuals in the City of York, and if population projections are accurate this estimate would be expected to increase with associated increases in health and social care requirements. Therefore this is an area that needs further consideration both with regard to identifying the true local prevalence and with regard to future strategies.