Martin Whitfield MSP is supporting Migraine Awareness Week (5-11 September) to highlight the struggle 10 million people in the UK face and the need for better care.

Migraine is one of the most disabling conditions in the world, affecting one in seven people in the UK. A new report by the UK’s leading migraine charity The Migraine Trust reveals the legacy of pain and damaged lives caused by the UK’s broken migraine healthcare system.

From being dismissed as ‘just having a headache’, waiting years to be diagnosed, to a lack of access to specialist care and new treatment, the report launched for Migraine Awareness Week exposes a broken healthcare system that migraine patients struggle to navigate.

The Migraine Trust says this is leading to the worsening of people’s migraine, limiting their ability to carry out their lives with a huge impact on personal relationships, work and mental health. It is calling for an urgent review of migraine healthcare.

Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“I’m supporting Migraine Awareness Week to lend my voice to the ten million people in the UK who live with migraine, and to call for better migraine care. This new work by The Migraine Trust shows we badly need investment in training and specialist services, to lift the burden migraine places on people and our NHS.

“Acting to improve migraine care will improve quality of life for millions of people as well as reduce the huge number of work days lost to illness and relieve pressure on A&E departments.”

The new report, Dismissed for too long, found a wide range of issues with migraine healthcare including:

  • Slow or no diagnosis: People with migraine are often only diagnosed several years after starting to have migraine attacks
  • Lack of access to specialist care: Most migraine patients never see a headache specialist, including those with chronic migraine who are referred to neurologists who may not have an expertise in migraine.
  • Lack of access to approved medications: the charity says problems in migraine healthcare have intensified over the last year as many people who are eligible for new migraine medication have struggled to access it, despite it being approved for use on the NHS.

The charity’s research also showed that migraine has a very negative impact on the lives of people affected by it, including:

  • almost a third (32%) said it negatively affected their mental health
  • almost a third (32%) said it negatively affected their overall health
  • three in ten (30%) said it negatively affected their working life
  • a quarter said it negatively affected their (25%) family life
  • over a quarter said it negatively affected their (27%) social life.

Rob Music, Chief Executive of The Migraine Trust said:

“Despite the widespread and wide-ranging impacts of migraine on our population, this report has highlighted that migraine is largely absent from NHS plans or local public health strategies, receives very little funding for research, and access to specialist care is patchy and inconsistent across the country. This must change.  

“Our support services at The Migraine Trust are contacted daily from people who have had to fight to be diagnosed correctly, who have to wait months to see a specialist; or who are unable to access the NHS-approved medication they are eligible for.”

Find out more about Migraine Awareness Week and the work of the Migraine Trust at