Wednesday 16 January 2019

'Three Parkinson's nurses in Cork would save the HSE €900,000 a year'

Maria Herlihy

If County Cork had three nurses who specialised in Parkinson's care for patients in their own homes it would save the HSE €900,000 per year.

That is the view of Tony Wilkinson, who, along with other Parkinson's sufferers, met with TDs in Dublin recently and outlined in detail to them how Parkinson's nurses in the community could "save the HSE huge sums of money". 

He said one nurse wouldl save the HSE approximately €300,000 per year. Mr Wilkinson said the savings would be achieved by avoiding consultant appointments along with unplanned admissions to hospitals and days spent in hospital. 

Parkinson's is a long term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which mainly affects the motor system. Symptoms generally come on slowly over time and include shaking, rigidity, an awkward gait and short steps, a forward tilt of the body as well as reduced arm swinging and stiffness of the body. There is no cure. 

Mr Wilkinson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's three years ago, said that people with the illness need a lot of support. 

"In the UK, there are specialist Parkinsons nurse who work in the community but not in Ireland. There are 920 people living with Parkinson's in Cork but if we had just three nurses that would be just one nurse to every 300 patients; it would make a great difference," he said. 

At the meeting, he also highlighted the lack of specialist Parkinson's consultants in CUH and said the post has remained vacant for almost two years. 

"Galway, Tipperary, Dublin have special Parkinson's consultants with some hospitals having dedicated beds set aside for Parkinson's patients. We are asking why the CUH post has remained vacant for so long and why it seems acceptable to them that other neurologists in the hospital cover the Parkinson's specialism; for example, the stroke specialist also sees and treats Parkinson's. This is not fair on the neurologists in CUH as the HSE seems to take a 'jack of all trades' attitude to their specialist skills nor does it lead to a successful experience for Parkinson's sufferers," he said.  

Mr Wilkinson has organised various support groups in Bandon, Skibbereen, Youghal, Fermoy and in Mallow. He said that the groups are even prepared to fundraise for especially trained Parkinson's nurses. 

"It would truly make the world of difference for a person if they can be seen by a nurse in their own home," Mr Wilkinson previously told The Corkman.

"Ireland, in reality, needs 32 nurses as the number of people with Parkinsons is set to double in the next decade due to the demographic age profile," he said.