NHS Dumfries and Galloway have appointed Sarah Gemmell as the new Epilepsy and Complex Needs Lead, based within the Children’s Community Team.
This post comes after months of talks between Epilepsy Scotland, families in the area and the D&G health board.
For several years, Dumfries and Galloway was the only mainland health board in Scotland who did not offer paediatric epilepsy specialist nursing.
Families told Epilepsy Scotland of their struggles in accessing the support and advice that the majority of parents and carers of children with epilepsy in Scotland have access to.
On hearing the news, a local parent who has been involved in the campaign, Kelly Gibson, said: “This will make a huge difference to us as a family, not having to travel for appointments. And even just the peace of mind that there is someone on hand to talk to for advice. We cannot wait to meet Sarah.”
Epilepsy Scotland delight
Epilepsy Scotland continues to work with the health board and are supporting the training needs of the post.
Lesslie Young, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland, said: “Epilepsy Scotland is delighted NHS Dumfries and Galloway have responded to the needs of the children and families living with epilepsy in the area by working with us to establish this vital support.
“It has been a long process however, we are now also pleased to be in a position to support the training needs of the paediatric Epilepsy and Complex Needs Lead in Dumfries and Galloway.
“Epilepsy Scotland initiated and supported the establishment of the adult epilepsy specialist nurse service in 2012, which has been a significant success.
“This longstanding collaborative relationship has produced, with the addition of the paediatric post, a comprehensive epilepsy service for people of all ages in Dumfries and Galloway.”
The campaign was backed by the local MSP for Dumfries and Galloway, Joan McAlpine, who said: “This is great news for the families across Dumfries and Galloway who previously struggled to get appropriate support for their children.
“I was delighted to campaign alongside them, and Epilepsy Scotland and I thank the health board for listening and taking action – all the more so given the challenges they face due to Covid.”
NHS Dumfries and Galloway said that Sarah brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in acute paediatric nursing with an advanced practice qualification.
Sarah said: “I am excited to take on this new role that will provide the essential service for offering practical and emotional support to children and families in Dumfries and Galloway.”