The NHS Long Term Plan puts cutting-edge treatments at the heart of people’s care, committing to introducing proven and affordable innovations as quickly as possible.
Cluster headaches are rare, but they’re more common in men and tend to start when a person is in their 30s or 40s.
The headaches generally begin quickly, with the pain being very severe and often described as a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head. The condition is felt around the eye, temple and sometimes face. It tends to occur on the same side for each attack.
The attacks generally last between 15 minutes and three hours, and typically occur between one and eight times a day.
The NHS-funded device is placed on the neck where it stimulates the vagus nerve which can lead to a reduction of pain.
Around 66,000 people in the UK experience a cluster headache and the device holds out hope for the one in 20 who do not respond to traditional treatments such as prescription of triptans (painkillers), oxygen or anticonvulsant.
Under the NHS scheme patients could be prescribed the easy-to-use technology and carry it with them so that they can use it regularly to prevent cluster headaches or when they feel one coming on. The NHS’ own innovation agencies – the 15 Academic Health Science Networks across England – will take direct responsibility for accelerating uptake locally, with our region’s base in Exeter.
The innovation is being funded as part of a scheme to fast track specific innovations into the NHS, which over the past three years has already benefitted over 300,000 patients.