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Headaches and Migraine

Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training in the care of people with headaches and migraine disorders is available to (a) GPs and (b) other medical staff. (277211)

The Department shares a commitment with statutory and professional bodies that all health professionals are trained, so that they have the skills and knowledge to deliver a high quality health service to all groups of the population with whom they deal. The Department, along with local national health service bodies that commission professional training, continue to work with the regulators and higher education institutes to ensure that their standards and curricula reflect the changing needs of patient and service delivery.

Training needs for all NHS staff are determined against local NHS priorities, through appraisal processes and training needs analyses informed by local delivery plans and the needs of the service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on drugs for the relief of headache disorders and migraine. (277212)

The Department funds national health service research and development through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The institute’s research programmes support high quality research of relevance and in areas of high priority to patients and the NHS. That research currently includes a randomised placebo controlled trial of propranolol and pizotifen in preventing migraine in children. The Department is also providing national health service support for a clinical study of clopidogrel as prophylactic treatment for migraine through the NIHR Primary Care Research Network.

The NIHR funded University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre is undertaking research on headache and pain. A five-year budget of £3.7 million has been allocated to this work.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC, an independent body, receives its grant in aid from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The MRC is currently funding two research projects relating to headache and migraine as follows:

Dr. K. E. Volynski at University College London: Calcium channels in evoked neurotransmitter release at individual synapses and neurological disease which relates to familial hemiplegic migraine.

Professor D. Kullman at the Institute of Neurology, London: Presynaptic ion channel dysfunction in the forebrain which is looking at the mechanisms which can cause seizures in conditions such as migraine and epilepsy.

A range of pharmacological interventions are available to prevent the occurrence of headaches, and to relieve the pain of attacks. It is the responsibility of health professionals to consider what treatment is the most appropriate for their patients, in consultation with the patient and informed by their medical history.