Headache Pathway tool

Click here to download our pathway as an interactive pdf.

Why we think it is important GPs use this tool:

Approximately a third of all neurology referrals are for headache, however NMC believes that the majority of patients can be safely and appropriately dealt with in Primary Care. If given the correct education and tools, evidence confirms that 90% of headache care should be delivered by GPs. With migraine affecting 1 in 5 of the population, a considerable amount of time is spent in General Practice with patients suffering with headaches however doctors receive on average just 4 hours training on the subject. It is for these reasons that the National Migraine Centre has launched a tool which will guide doctors through examinations, diagnosis, and treatment in line with recent NICE guidance (released this summer), BASH (British Association For The Study Of Headache) and SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) recommendations.

The NMC are eager to help colleagues in Primary Care deliver and commission services in a cost effective way. The centre is best known for treating sufferers at their charity-led clinic in London, however they have a long history of educating healthcare professionals. They run a series of educational masterclasses each year and provide factsheets, headache diaries and other resources on their website for doctors to make use of. This headache pathway pulls all of this knowledge together with a step-by-step interactive approach to high quality up-to-date practice regardless of doctor’s prior knowledge.

A GP from East London who has benefitted from the charity’s education, Dr Shahid Dadabhoycomments, “Headaches are a common presentation in Primary Care and generate a large number of secondary care activity and quite expensive prescribing costs recurrently. National Migraine Centre is a charitable organisation that is the antithesis of all of this and has consistently provided me with the highest quality evidenced based and cost effective headache management advice.”

National Migraine Centre is encouraging practitioners to pass this tool on to colleagues so that those lacking in experience when it comes to treating headache have all they will need to manage headache patients, or refer them on appropriately. Even for dotors with experience of treating headache in Primary Care, recent guidance from NICE, (for example the recommendation of Botox for chronic migraine) will be new, so this tool provides an accessible route into this information.