Wales Network

Since the charity’s launch in 2012 we have been unable to establish a local 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.

To improve the situation for people with facial palsy in Wales we need 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:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fpukwales/

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?

Facial therapy

We located just one facial therapist who has undergone specialist training to treat facial palsy in Wales but referrals can only be accepted from those resident within the ABUHB health board area, the service is at Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. For more details contact us. There may be additional therapists but we are not aware of them.

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.

Surgery

There are seven health boards in Wales. In May 2017 we sent a Freedom of Information request to each health board.

We asked:

Which of these procedures do you offer freely and which on an individual basis for those patients with facial palsy?

  1. Botox injections for synkinesis or facial asymmetry
  2. Static Therapies (4 procedures – Browlift, canthopexy/canthoplasty, static facial slings and face lifts)
  3. Dynamic Therapies: (2 procedures – sliding temporalis myoplasty, cross facial nerve graft and free muscle transfer (facial reanimation))
  4. 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.

Your experiences

We need to hear about your experiences in order to campaign for change. If you are interested in being a media volunteer or sharing your story on our website please contact media@facialpalsy.org.uk.

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Last reviewed: 31-07-2018    ||    Next review due: 31-07-2019