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Adolescence is a challenging, often traumatic but fascinating time of life whether or not it is accompanied by a chronic medical disorder such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, arthritis—or epilepsy1,2,3, a condition which is in fact more common than the three preceding disorders cited by Professor David in his somewhat pessimistic editorial (August 2001 JRSM, pp. 373-374).
In 1991 a specific ‘hand-over’ or transition clinic for teenagers with epilepsy was established in Liverpool which is supervised jointly by a paediatric and an adult neurologist (both of whom have a particular interest in epilepsy) together with a nurse specialist in epilepsy. The primary objectives of this teenager clinic are to address the unique needs and concerns of this age group and, importantly, to facilitate a smooth hand-over of specialist epilepsy care from paediatric to adult services4. The success of this clinic—as assessed by both the teenagers themselves (who have a ‘did not attend clinic’ rate of < 3%)—and the development of other similar units throughout the UK and the rest of Europe, would suggest that this approach is generally regarded as a ‘model’ service. Undoubtedly, the success of this service is largely dependent on demonstrating a clear commitment to the young people, the philosophy and personalities of the clinic staff and the teenagers themselves.
In Liverpool, and for teenagers with epilepsy, the future is bright.