In 2020 we started delivering online support groups in Wales with a specialist facial therapist. Please join our community via this link https://www.facialpalsy.org.uk/support/join-our-community/ and opt-in to support group news or join our Facebook group via this link https://www.facebook.com/groups/fpukwales/ where we post updates about Welsh online meetings.
Since the charity’s launch in 2012 we have been unable to establish a local face-to-face support group in Wales. Often groups form when specialist health professionals agree to support it. There are currently no specialist multidisciplinary teams specialising in facial palsy in Wales.
About the Welsh Facebook group
To improve the situation for people with facial palsy in Wales we needed to bring people together to share experiences of access to care and also to gain mutual support. While not an ideal solution we set up a Facebook group in August 2018 for this purpose. Click the link below to join:
The Facebook group is a place for you to interact with other people affected by facial palsy in Wales, share stories, photos and discuss any aspect of facial palsy. Health professionals may be in this group but they are unable to offer specific medical advice. In future there may also be government officials or other people who are helping with our campaign for improved services. It is important they know the struggles people face so they can push for change.
What help is available for facial palsy in Wales?
In June 2019 a new monthly facial palsy service was established at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Referrals should be made by GPs to either the Plastic Surgery Department at Morriston Hospital or directly to Jon Cubitt, The Welsh Centre of Burns and Plastic Surgery, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, SA6 6NL.
If you are in north Wales you can ask for referral to Mr Alex Benson or Mrs Aenone Harper-Machin, Consultant Plastic Surgeons, Department of Plastic Surgery, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Whiston Hospital, Prescot, Merseyside, L35 5DR. This is a multidisciplinary team who also offer specialist facial therapy.
These are not recommendations of particular specialists, they are the only specialists serving the country of Wales.
Facial therapy is a postgraduate specialism that is not taught at university. Treating faces is very different to treating any other part of your body. Facial Therapy Specialists UK offer training to therapists (e.g. speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists). Ideally we would like to see this training delivered to a cohort of health professionals in Wales. We are not currently aware of any facial therapists working in Wales.
There are seven health boards in Wales. In May 2017 we sent a Freedom of Information request to each health board.
Which of these procedures do you offer freely and which on an individual basis for those patients with facial palsy?
- Botox injections for synkinesis or facial asymmetry
- Static Therapies (4 procedures – Browlift, canthopexy/canthoplasty, static facial slings and face lifts)
- Dynamic Therapies: (2 procedures – sliding temporalis myoplasty, cross facial nerve graft and free muscle transfer (facial reanimation))
- If you only offer these on an individual evaluated basis why is this?
These were the responses:
- Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
- ABM University Health Board – referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
- Cardiff and Vale University Heath Board – Answer to Q1: Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (the UHB) can confirm that our Ophthalmology Service does offer Botox injections for synkinesis or facial asymmetry. Please note that Botox is also offered within this service for Browlift and canthopexy/ canthoplasty.) Answer to Q2, 3 and 4: referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
- Hywel Dda University Health Board – Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) routinely approves funding for Botox for facial palsy. However, Botox for facial asymmetry and the procedures within questions 2 and 3 are services commissioned by Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) on an all Wales basis.
- Cwm Taf University Health Board – referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
- Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
- Powys Teaching Health Board – referred to Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC)
We then approached the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) who state:
Our Specialised Services Policy: CP43 Facial Surgery Procedures outlines the circumstances under which patients will be able to access treatment (including those identified in parts 1 and 2 of your request), clarity of the referral process and defines the criteria that patients must meet in order to be referred. A copy of which can be found on our website www.whssc.wales.nhs.uk
In response to parts 3, 4 and 5 of your request, WHSSC can confirm that both north Wales (St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust) and south Wales (Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board) are able to provide a range of reconstructive procedures for patients with facial palsy, depending on the patient, including those treatments noted above. However, any request for treatment at a centre outside of these would be reviewed via our Individual Patient Funding Request process. Details of which are available on our website at www.whssc.wales.nhs.uk.
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We are grateful for the support of the National Lottery Community Fund Wales.
Last reviewed: 10-02-2020 || Next review due: 10-02-2022