ELLESMERE Port and Neston MP Justin Madders has stressed the need for better care for those who fall victim to migraine attacks.

The former Shadow Health Minister is calling for improved recognition of the serious impact that migraines have on some people as part of his support for Migraine Awareness Week (September 24 to 30).

He has been told one in seven adults in the UK experience migraine and more than a million people live with chronic migraine, meaning they experience headache for at least 15 days a month for three months at a time.

"Migraine is not being taken seriously as a health condition and those with the condition are clearly being let down," said Mr Madders.

"This is why I am calling for greater use in the NHS of tools and pathways that exist for managing the condition, increased education to support health professionals to identify and manage migraine in the right place for patients, and more specialist centres."

MPs have been told the impact of migraine goes far beyond pain. A third of callers to The Migraine Trust’s helpline report a decline in mental health. Migraine can affect all areas of life including ability to work and maintain relationships leaving many of those affecting feeling isolated.

A new report called ‘Heading in the wrong direction’ has also found people with migraine are struggling to access appropriate diagnoses and treatments. Misunderstanding of the condition as ‘just a headache’, lack of specialist care and unequal provision of treatments means many are left struggling alone with debilitating symptoms.

In its report the charity heard from many people who feel health professionals, especially in primary care, do not understand migraine. They report having their pain dismissed, being told nothing can be done for them and waiting years to access treatments. As a result, many are left feeling depressed, frustrated and unable to cope.

Most people who live with migraine should be successfully supported in primary care by their GP, who can diagnose migraine and advise on medication options and lifestyle adaptions, and might also be supported by community pharmacies.

However, some will need to be referred to a healthcare professional who specialises in migraine, such as a GP with a Special Interest in Headache, or a neurologist. High numbers of patients reported incorrect referrals, long waiting lists for specialist support or simply that they feel dismissed.