Severe headache sufferers offered new treatment on NHS

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By Emily Mee, news reporter

The NHS is rolling out a number of medical innovations which are expected to benefit more than 400,000 people in the next year.

People who suffer from excruciating cluster headaches are to be offered a new treatment on the NHS which removes the need for pills.

The hand-held Gammacore device blocks the pain signals which cause cluster headaches by delivering mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve.

It is small enough to fit inside a handbag and is said to cause less side effects than taking medication.

Under new plans by NHS England, the gadget will be rolled out along with a number of cutting-edge medical innovations.

Sufferers of cluster headaches often experience a severe stabbing pain on one side of the face, which can last between 15 minutes and three hours.

According to The Migraine Trust, cluster headache is “one of the most painful conditions known to mankind” and the pain has been described as “worse than childbirth”.

The rare condition is believed to affect about one to two people in every 1,000.

The Gammacore rollout is part of the NHS’ Innovation and Technology Programme, which aims to deliver the latest medical technology to patients.

Other innovations set to be provided to patients include a pre-eclampsia test for pregnant women and an advanced blood test which can detect a heart attack in three hours – 75% faster than the current time.

Announcing the new innovations, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the technology would benefit more than 400,000 patients in the next year.

He also confirmed the programme would be extending funding for a number of cutting-edge tests and treatments, including 3D heart modelling which can rapidly diagnose heart disease without the need for invasive procedures.

“It’s heartening to see the NHS grasping with both hands these rapidly advancing medical innovations.”

Dr Sam Roberts, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “This programme has been amazingly successful at getting new tests and treatments to patients, with over 300,000 patients benefitting already, and this year we have another great selection of proven innovations.”

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