Victory for East Lancs Parkinson's sufferers

PATIENTS have claimed victory in a five-year campaign for a dedicated Parkinson’s disease nurse.

East Lancashire is one of just 12 NHS areas not to benefit from a specialist nurse, but health chiefs are now set to team up with the support and research charity Parkinson’s UK to provide one.

The charity has offered nearly £100,000 to fund the position for two years, with the understanding that East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will take over funding from 2015/16.

The nurse will run clinics at health centres across Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Rossendale and Pendle, offering home visits for patients with more severe problems, as well as providing support and advice to hospital-based nurses.

The issue was raised by various patients at a recent ‘listening event’ in Rossendale, in which the CCG asked for feedback on services in the area.

Parkinson’s sufferer Walter Whittaker, 82, of Pike Hill in Burnley, said: “This is very good news.

“We are really pleased because we’ve been asking for this for five years.

“It will help to have someone available in between seeing a consultant every six months.”

He said his condition can vary immensely between consultant appointments and general nurses don’t have the right expertise to carry out assessments or medication changes.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who has supported the campaign, said: “Hiring a nurse should also save the CCG money by reducing the cost of drugs and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The decision was made at a CCG board meeting.

Dr Phil Huxley, a Pendle GP who sits on the board, was concerned there would only be one nurse for the ‘very large’ area of East Lancashire, but was told by colleagues that the charity would only fund a single position.

Dr Di van Ruitenbeek, the CCG chairwoman, said: “This is a good example of us responding to patient feedback.”

Katherine French, of Parkinson’s UK in the North West, said: “Parkinson’s nurses are so critical to providing support and managing this complex condition, so we know it will make a huge difference to the 750 people living with Parkinson’s in East Lancashire.”

Parkinson’s is a neurological condition and symptoms can include tremors, slowness of movement, tiredness and pain.

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