People who Suffer from Migraines

1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 20 February 2024.

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Photo of Mark Isherwood Mark Isherwood Conservative


8. How is the Welsh Government supporting people who suffer from migraines? OQ60691

Photo of Mark Drakeford Mark Drakeford Labour 2:31, 20 February 2024

I thank the Member for that question, Llywydd. An all-Wales toolkit was launched in June of last year, to support clinicians in diagnosing and caring for people with different types of headaches, including migraines. The toolkit was co-produced by the membership of the neurological conditions implementation group, including the Wales Neurological Alliance.

Photo of Mark Isherwood Mark Isherwood Conservative 2:32, 20 February 2024

Last month, I co-sponsored a migraine awareness event here in the Senedd with Jayne Bryant MS and Luke Fletcher MS. Migraine is a common condition affecting one in seven adults, and one in 10 children across the UK—around 10 million people, including 450,000 in Wales. Migraine remains a debilitating condition, but basic misunderstanding of the reality of it means that migraine is often dismissed as, quote, 'just a headache'.

The Migraine Trust have recommended steps that can be taken to improve migraine care in Wales, incorporating a number specifically relating to the planning and needs assessment responsibilities of local health boards, including, reviews of the migraine needs of local populations; ensuring optimal pathways are implemented; increasing the availability of headache specialists; developing and rolling out training and resources for GPs; ensuring that all guidance for healthcare professionals is updated; strengthening the role of pharmacy within primary care for migraine; and public awareness campaigns and resources. 

So, what action is the Welsh Government planning, if any, to address these issues raised here last month and to meet the needs of people with migraine in Wales?

Photo of Mark Drakeford Mark Drakeford Labour 2:33, 20 February 2024

Well, I thank the Member for that question, and congratulate all Members across the Chamber who took part in that migraine awareness event. The purpose of the all-Wales toolkit is to respond to a number of the practical suggestions that Mark Isherwood just raised on behalf of those who work in this area, because it is essentially to do with improving the way in which primary care clinicians are able to identify and respond to people who suffer from the debilitating condition that a migraine is for so many people. 

At the other end of the spectrum, we recognise that there is a need for more specialist support for those people whose migraines are of a particularly debilitating sort. We expect the appointment of a national clinical lead for neurological conditions very soon, and I hope that, as part of their work, they will look at how we can both strengthen that front end of the health service, where most people will continue to get their care, while also strengthening the very specialist end of the care spectrum for those people whose conditions need more than a primary care response would be able to mobilise.