18 December 2019


Toolkit on headache and migraine published


Millions of people are affected by migraine in the UK, and headaches are amongst the most common neurological reasons people go to A&E. There are huge quality of life issues for people with headache and migraine: our 2019 patient experience survey found that 57% of people with cluster headache and 51% of people with migraine reported their condition impacted their quality of life ‘to a great extent’. While it is patients and their families that are most affected by these conditions, there are also wider implications: 3 million workdays are lost to migraine-related sick leave, costing around £4.4 billion. Working together with The Neurological Alliance, NHS RightCare have produced a toolkit on headache and migraine to help improve the care patients receive.


The toolkit is aimed at local health systems, providing advice and guidance to local healthcare professionals and commissioners to help them to identify areas and opportunities for improvement to headache and migraine care. Priorities identified include:


  • Correct identification and diagnosis of headache disorders
  • Making appropriate referrals to secondary care
  • Supporting patients to self-manage their condition after diagnosis
  • Long-term management of patients in primary or community care


In order to check whether the toolkit is making the difference needed, self-assessment questionnaires will be used. Where successful, the improved care people are receiving should result in a reduction in unnecessary visits to hospitals and GPs. Not only would this help improve the experiences of people affected by headache and migraine, but it may also help to free up capacity for services to quickly see the people who most need to be seen.


Commenting on the publication, Katharine McIntosh, Policy and External Affairs Manager, and Acting Chief Executive (Dec 2019-Jan 2020), said:

“We are pleased to have collaborated with NHS RightCare in the production of the headache and migraine toolkit. This document is a much-needed step in the right direction. We hope it will really help improve the experiences of people affected by migraine and headache in accessing healthcare services. We also hope that the positive effects will be felt more widely in local healthcare services, as well as amongst employers and for the economy at large.”