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Campaign launched to protect Parkinson's nurses

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Nearly a third of Parkinson’s disease specialist nurses feel insecure in their posts and one in five believe their post is at risk or threatened in some way, according to a charity survey.

Parkinson’s UK released the survey on Monday as it launched its Protect Parkinson’s Nurses campaign to persuade managers and clinical commissioning groups not to cut specialist nursing posts as they attempt to make savings.

It is calling on patients and clinicians to contact local NHS Commissioners and urge them to protect the posts of the 264 Parkinson’s nurses in England. It wants specialist nurses to be seen as a way of saving money in the long term through reduced admissions and improved care, rather than as an easy, short term cut.

In addition to the survey findings, the charity published two reports setting out the case for both protecting and expanding Parkinson’s nurse provision.

It argues that losing community-based Parkinson’s nurses could cost the NHS up to £19.5m in increased admissions and demands on consultant time, while losing hospital-based Parkinson’s nurses could cost the NHS in England up to £15.6m in longer time spent in hospital.

Lesley Carter, former nurse and head of influence and service development at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Cutting Parkinson’s nurses would be a false economy. They deliver on both innovation and cost-effectiveness. We want commissioners to realise the huge value Parkinson’s nurses bring to both the patients they treat and their employers, and to protect this must-have post.”

She added: “All healthcare professionals can support our campaign by taking our new report to their commissioners to help hit home the value that Parkinson’s nurses can bring.”

In May, the charity fought its first battle with one of the new GP-led commissioning groups that are due to take over the bulk of NHS funding decisions from primary care trusts.

It accused the Coastal West Sussex Federation of attempting to cancel funding for a specialist nurse post that had already been agreed by NHS West Sussex. The GP group claimed no final decision had been made and that it was reviewing the future of the post (news, page 4, 3 May).

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