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UHP ‘streets ahead’ of other UK neurology services in treating headaches

Headache Nurse Specialist Becky Stuckey

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) is leading the way for neurology services in the UK in terms of treating headaches.

That’s the view of Rebecca Stuckey, Clinical Nurse Specialist for chronic migraine and cluster headaches at UHP, after she attended the 16th European Headache Federation Congress in Vienna on December 9 to 11. Headache Nurse Specialist Becky Stuckey

Rebecca was delighted to report at the conference, the first such event she has attended in person since the pandemic, that UHP’s headache service is leading the way in treating migraines by introducing new treatment options for patients.

At the Vienna-based conference, Rebecca was one of only eight headache specialists from the UK. Speaking about the event Rebecca said: “It was really nice to go in and meet other neurologists and headache nurses and to share our experiences with all the drugs, how we accessed them and how we trained different patients to use them.

“From a UHP point of view, it was really good to see that we are streets ahead of some services and leading the way in terms of headache treatment as when speaking to some of the other professionals, they said they haven’t been able to get any of the new drugs available.

“The conference was based around what we found when using these new drugs. However, already there are even newer treatments. It’s all very exciting.”

Rebecca is justifiably proud of UHP’s success in treating headaches, which is in part down to her own tireless and pioneering work over the past eight years. “I was the first headache nurse in the South West,” she said. “About 18 months ago, we employed a second headache nurse, Natasha Wood, and we cater to the needs of patients from Somerset all the way down to Penzance.

“UHP is the only hospital in the South West that has a dedicated headache service and it’s entirely nurse-led, which is revolutionary as when we meet other headache nurses from other centres they’re very much neurologist-led rather than nurses-led.”

She added: “We used to have virtually nothing to give headache patients, except drugs that gave them lots of side effects such as anti-epileptics, anti-depressants and beta blockers for blood pressure. On top of getting migraines all the time, patients were also getting these side effects.

“Botox came along about 10 years ago and that was like a revelation that worked really well. Patients had to come into hospital, and it was quite painful to have it done – 31 injections into their heads and nerve blocks and things like that.

“That was where we were three years ago. Now we have three new drugs they can do at home, and we can monitor them remotely. Plus, there are more on the way – it’s fantastic.”

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