NHS England Rolls Out Cluster Headache-busting Device

Priscilla Lynch 

April 07, 2021

A small, portable non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation device that can treat cluster headaches is now available to anyone who needs it on the NHS in England.

GammaCore is held against the neck and delivers a low-level electric current to block pain signals, after successful trials held over the last 2 years.

The new technology is being made available as part of the new Medtech Funding Mandate policy, which came into effect on 1 April 2021, allowing patients to benefit from fast tracked innovations from the NHS.

Around 11,000 people are set to benefit from the device, which can be used regularly to prevent cluster headaches or when patients feel one starting to come on.

NHS medical director Stephen Powis said: "While they may be small, these devices will make a huge difference to people who suffer from these debilitating headaches – relieving painful symptoms and allow people to go about their daily lives as normal."

"The NHS Long Term Plan committed to making cutting edge treatments and technology available to save and improve lives."

While cluster headaches are rare, they are more common in men and tend to start in people in their 30s or 40s. About one to two people in every 1000 are affected by cluster headaches and around one in 20 do not respond to traditional treatments, including painkillers or oxygen.

Matthew Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: "Despite the pandemic, we remain committed to delivering on the ambitious commitments set out in the Long Term Plan to support the latest innovations and allow patients to utilise them across the country, as quickly as possible."

"The GammaCore device will provide life-changing benefits for thousands of people and it is just one of a number of technologies that are being mandated by the NHS."

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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