Health: Charity launches campaign to champion Parkinson’s nurses

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Parkinson’s UK is calling on people in the South-East to write to their local commissioners to champion and protect frontline Parkinson’s nurses.

The Protect Parkinson’s Nurses campaign is focused on protecting existing Parkinson’s nurse posts from cuts, and to make sure that everyone living with Parkinson’s in England receives the care and support they need.

It forms part of the charity’s existing Fair Care for Parkinson’s initiative, which includes ensuring everyone living with Parkinson’s has access to a nurse by 2015.

The current drive for the NHS to make efficiency savings means that Parkinson’s UK is deeply concerned that Parkinson’s nurses – who save the NHS in England around £42m - are at risk of being cut.

Parkinson’s nurses help people manage their medication and offer advice, information and emotional support to anybody affected by the condition.

Findings from a new survey of Parkinson’s nurses in England revealed that one in three (29 per cent) feel insecure in their posts, with one in five (21 per cent) saying their post was at risk or threatened in some way.

More than a quarter of Parkinson’s nurses (27 per cent) in the survey are having to withdraw vital parts of their service such as home visits, do more paperwork through loss of administrative support and work on wards. One in five nurses (19 per cent) in the survey report caseloads of over 700 people - more than double the recommended 300 people per nurse.

Parkinson’s UK wants to make sure that the people who commission health services in England see the value of Parkinson’s nurses as a vital frontline service. The work of Parkinson’s nurses saves the NHS millions of pounds by driving down demand for consultant appointments, decreasing unexpected hospital admissions and shortened hospital stays.

People with Parkinson’s have the right to live as independently as possible, but they need specialist support from Parkinson’s nurses to do this. A recent survey showed that twice as many people with Parkinson’s rated their nurse as the most helpful in understanding the Parkinson’s services (65 per cent), rather than their neurologist (32 per cent).

Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “We’re deeply concerned that the Parkinson’s nurses that we’ve helped put in place could be under threat. Even though there is uncertainty over commissioning arrangements in parts of the UK, there’s no uncertainty about the money that Parkinson’s nurses can save and the massive difference they make to the lives of people with Parkinson’s.

“So join our campaign and visit parkinsons.org.uk/faircare to take action to protect Parkinson’s nurses in your local community now.”