Epilepsy

Part of Culture, Media and Sport Committee – in the House of Commons at 3:06 pm on 26th February 2015.

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Photo of Laura Sandys Laura Sandys Conservative, South Thanet 3:06 pm, 26th February 2015

I know that first aid in schools is an issue that the hon. Gentleman is very passionate about. I absolutely do agree. This condition impacts one in every 100 people; it is a very large-scale chronic condition. When a child falls to the floor in school, they need people who are confident to deal with them—who know what the issues are, can calm the rest of the classroom, and understand that this can be managed and supported. If people in authority do not know how to respond—we have examples among the police, those in schools, and even nurses—they feed the stigma, feed the problem, and feed the anxiety around people with this condition.

I feel that we have not done enough to push for greater change and greater focus, and to ensure that Government and the charities have greater ambition for people with epilepsy. However, I think we have done a reasonable amount, and I hope that over time we will do much more in this place and outside.

Stigma is one of the problems. Epilepsy is not trendy; it is not a fashionable condition. It is not information that people volunteer when they make a job application. I can assure Members that one does not talk about it as a set-piece at social events when describing an illness during the week. People with epilepsy frequently try to disguise it; we can see it in their eyes. I have always been very clear about it, because I believe that we should take away the stigma. We cannot normalise it, because it is not a normal condition, but we can make it something that needs to be addressed in equality with other chronic conditions.