One in ten migraine sufferers is forced to wait more than a decade to be treated because of a’shocking lack of NHS specialists.

  • Half of Brits suffering from migraines experience three-year delays. One in six suffers from the condition.
  • Experts believe that there is only one specialist NHS doctor per 15,000 patients
  • More than six million Britons suffer from migraines. However, painkillers are often not effective. 

Research suggests that one in ten migraine sufferers is not treated by a NHS expert within a decade.

Half of Britons with the same problem face delays of more than three years. For one in six, it takes at least six.

Experts attribute the problem to a “shocking shortage of NHS specialists”, with only one doctor available for every 15,000 people.

Dr Katy Munro, a National Migraine Centre charity headache specialist, stated: “Migraine treatment on NHS is hugely underfunded and because of that we have very few experts across the country.” 

“We need more money for research, training, clinics and other activities.”

More than six millions people in the UK suffer from migraines. Many people take painkillers and prescription drugs called triptans to reduce the duration of migraine attacks. 

However, many people find these drugs ineffective.

Scientists have created a variety of medications to treat migraines in recent years. 

These include nerve block injections, which inhibit pain-producing nervous systems in the head, and Botox that paralyses muscles and reduces migraine frequency.

More than six million people in the UK suffer with migraines. Most take painkillers or prescription drugs called triptans, which can shorten the length of attacks. But for many, these drugs are ineffective (file photo)

More than six millions people in the UK suffer from migraines. Many people take painkillers and prescription drugs called triptans to reduce the duration of migraine attacks. Many people find these drugs ineffective (file image). 

And last year the NHS approved the first treatment specifically designed to prevent migraines – a new breed of highly effective drugs called CGRP inhibitors.

These injections can be used for the most severe cases, but only a specialist who has completed headache training can prescribe them.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, one company that makes CRGP inhibitors in the UK, conducted a survey of 1000 migraine patients. It revealed the difficulties many face in finding the right treatment.

Ruth Sturmey (a Cheshire accountant aged 30), had to wait 14-years before she saw an expert in headaches. She developed migraines at 15 after a car accident.

She says, “At least once per week I have an attack,” 

‘I feel intense pain in my head and I lose my vision. I must wait for the pain to go before I can sit down in a darkened room with an icepack on my head.

Ruth saw her GP numerous times, but was never referred by a headache specialist.

She stated that she was told by her GP to take ibuprofen. Unfortunately, they caused side effects – stomach problems.’

Three years ago, she began seeing a new GP. She was very helpful but stated that she would need to ‘jump through all of the hoops’ before she could see a specialist.

Ruth was eventually admitted to the hospital following a severe attack. She was then referred for neurology.

She says it has made a huge difference in her life: “I’m getting Botox shots and I’m almost pain-free most of the month. It’s made such a big difference. 

“It just makes my mind wonder why I had 15 years of chronic pain to get to this point.”