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Tribute paid to UK’s first Parkinson’s specialist nurse

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Tributes have been paid to the pioneering work of the UK’s first Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist who passed away earlier this month. 

Rosemary Maguire, who died on 2 September at St Julia’s Hospice in Cornwall aged 76, is credited with paving the way for the creation of hundreds of specialist neurology nursing posts across the country and beyond.

In 1987 she was commissioned by Dr Doug MacMahon, a specialist in geriatric care, to undertake a study looking at how to offer better care to people with Parkinson’s disease.

“She had a deep empathy for the patients and their carers, and was always available to trouble-shoot”

Doug MacMahon

At the time she was working as a geriatric liaison heath visitor. Her research subsequently led to the creation of the Parkinson’s nurse specialist role, of which she became the first.

Dr MacMahon, who is now a trustee of the charity Parkinson’s UK, paid tribute to the “huge contribution” Ms Maguire had made to the lives of people living with Parkinson’s and their carers regionally, nationally and internationally.

“Before her appointment in 1989 there had never been a specialist Parkinson’s nurse post,” he said.

“Such was the impact her appointment made that it has not only been perpetuated, but almost 350 similar posts are now established in the UK alone, and many others in other countries.

“She had a deep empathy for the patients and their carers, and was always available to trouble-shoot – especially when people were just coming to terms with the diagnosis, or going through difficult phases of their life,” noted Dr MacMahon.

He added that she also “spread her knowledge and skills” through the first English National Board course in Specialist Care of People with Parkinson’s with Plymouth University.

Ms Maguire was later awarded an MBE for her pioneering work, saying at the time: “There’s no way that me, as one specialist nurse, could have made much of a difference. 

“It was only by getting everyone on board that we could make the difference together,” she said. “The award really is for everybody – they just needed someone to light the touch paper.”

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