Oxfordshire working to support the 1 in 7 people living with migraine

Migraine is one of the most disabling conditions in the world, affecting one in seven people in the UK. A new report by the UK’s leading migraine charity The Migraine Trust highlights the legacy of pain and damaged lives caused by a broken migraine healthcare system, and reveals the Oxfordshire area is doing positive work when it comes to supporting people living with this debilitating condition.

The report launched for Migraine Awareness Week (5-11 September) highlights issues such as slow diagnosis and lack of access to specialist care and treatment, but also illustrates the positive work being done in areas like Oxford to help people manage this long-term painful condition. Still, the UK has a long way to go when it comes to improving the lives of people with migraine, a disease that can have a huge impact on all aspects of a person’s life, from relationships and work life to mental health. The Migraine Trust is therefore calling for an urgent review of UK migraine healthcare across the country.

Specialist care in Oxfordshire

According to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted by the charity, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of few Health Trusts in England that actually has a specialist headache clinic to support locals struggling with migraine and other headache conditions. The Health Trust runs multiple headache clinics each week.

Last year, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust supported over 1,000 patients through its headache clinic service. The Trust also currently has one headache specialist doctor and one headache specialist nurse employed part-time, while many parts of England have none. It also plans to increase its headache specialist services in 2021/2022, which is great news for Oxfordshire residents living with migraine. With the disease affecting one in seven people, Oxfordshire must strive to increase its headache services to ensure everyone living with migraine in the area receives swift diagnosis and proper care.

Patients struggling to access receiving life-changing new treatment

Many migraine patients across the UK have recently experienced significant improvements in their migraine thanks to a revolutionary new treatment called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibody treatment. This is the first ever drug created specifically to prevent migraine, but despite it being approved for use on the NHS, many eligible patients are struggling to access it due to lack of funding and a frustrating postcode lottery.

Under Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, eligible patients cannot currently access CGRP medication through the NHS, although it does hope to open a CGRP clinic if it can get sufficient funding. Patients who can’t access CGRP medication often have to resort to private prescriptions, which cost over £300 each month, or struggle on with their migraine if they cannot afford to. Some people live with chronic migraine, meaning they experience headache on at least 15 days every month, with 8 of those days being migraine attacks. CGRP treatment could be life-changing for Oxfordshire residents with this debilitating condition.

This report highlights the urgent need to drastically improve healthcare services for the one in seven Oxfordshire residents living with migraine. It is unacceptable that people living with such a debilitating long-term condition cannot easily access CGRP medication. This inequity must change. Our support services at The Migraine Trust are contacted daily by people who have had to fight to be diagnosed correctly, who have to wait months or longer to see a specialist, or who are unable to access the NICE-approved medication they are eligible for.”

Rob Music, Chief Executive of The Migraine Trust

Migraine is a complex and debilitating long-term brain disease. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, and sensory changes like disturbed vision. If you experience symptoms of migraine it’s important to visit your GP. You can also contact The Migraine Trust’s helpline on 0808 802 0066 or email info@migrainetrust.org for advice and support.

What is a migraine?

Migraine is a complex condition with a wide variety of symptoms. The main feature is a painful headache. Other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. Symptoms vary from person to person. Attacks may differ in length and frequency too. Migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours.

  • Migraine is the third most common disease in the world with an estimated global prevalence of 14.7% (that’s around 1 in 7 people).
  • According to NHS England, approximately 10 million people in the UK live with migraine.
  • Research suggests that 3,000 migraine attacks occur every day for each million of the general population. This equates to over 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK.