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Charity campaign saves specialist nurse post

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A charity has declared victory in its campaign to secure a specialist nurse for West Sussex after local GPs had advised a primary care trust to put recruitment to the post “on hold”.

Nursing Times believes it is the first example of a charity successfully influencing one of the new GP-led commissioning groups that are due to take over most NHS decision making from primary care trusts.

Parkinson’s UK had accused the Coastal West Sussex Federation of attempting to reverse a decision previously made by NHS West Sussex to fund a new Parkinson’s nurse covering around 600 patients in the Worthing area.

The federation, which is advising the PCT on its funding decisions for the current financial year prior to formally taking over control of budgets in future, said it was taking a “longer look” at the future strategy for long term conditions.

In response, Parkinson’s UK collected more than 1,200 signatures backing the nursing post as well as enlisting the support of two local MPs.

The PCT and commissioning group have now jointly agreed to appoint a specialist nurse for the area, following a meeting on 28 June.

The charity also launched a national campaign last week to protect the 264 Parkinson’s specialist nurse posts in England. 

It said the success in West Sussex was a “prime example” of making the case for the value of specialist nurses and the positive difference they can make to Parkinson’s disease patients.  

Parkinson’s UK service development officer Lucy McGrath said: “We hope that the nurse can be recruited as quickly as possible so that people with Parkinson’s are soon able to get the support and advice they need to manage their condition.”

But federation chair Katie Armstrong said: “A specialist Parkinson’s nurse was never ruled out. Before any decision was made, as the future health service commissioners, Coastal West Sussex Federation has needed to look at all of the services currently available for people with long term conditions to see how they meet the health needs of local people.”

Dr Armstrong added: “We understand the frustration felt by local people about this and respect the passionate views of those with Parkinson’s in the area and their families, carers and friends. We hope we can now work productively with Parkinson’s UK to make the specialist nursing post a reality.”

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