A NEW survey has revealed that the public awareness of epilepsy in Burton and South Derbyshire has changed little over the last 10 years.
Around one in five people in both areas would try to restrain someone during an epileptic seizure and two per cent of the people quizzed still believe epilepsy is contagious.
The report is ‘extremely disappointing’ according to the charity Epilepsy Society who commissioned the survey.
Amanda Cleaver, charity spokesman, told the Mail: “Greater public awareness of epilepsy is one of the biggest issues for people living with the condition.
“Busting the myths and misconceptions will help banish the stigma people with epilepsy often experience.”
The charity first ran a public attitudes survey in 2003.
She added: “Even today a quarter of people would see putting something in a person’s mouth to stop them swallowing their tongue as an appropriate response to seeing someone having a seizure in the street.
“More people than ever before would call an ambulance – 89 per cent compared to 77 per cent 10 years ago.
“Calling an ambulance isn’t always necessary and is expensive. An emergency and unnecessary admission to hospital costs around £1,000.
The survey findings 10 years on are extremely disappointing.”
Around 1 in 100 people in the UK has epilepsy and it can affect anyone of any age, at any time in their life.
Epilepsy Society is calling on charities within the neurological sector to come together and make a public stand to tackle stigma.
Epilepsy Society’s chief executive Graham Faulkner said: “It’s time to tackle public awareness head on, combat stigma and improve the lives of everyone affected by neurological conditions – not just epilepsy. We have several partners in the field of neurology and stigma seems to be an issue which is common to us all.
“By taking a new approach I believe we can make a significant impact and change attitudes once and for all. I think we have a lot to learn from the mental health charities who have been working together on this one issue and have achieved remarkable results.”
This information was released ahead of Nation Epilepsy week, which runs from May 19 to May 25.