Parkinson's Disease expert delivers speech to MPs
A consultant neurologist from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital this week gave a keynote speech to MPs at the House of Commons in a bid to raise awareness about the needs and problems facing people with Parkinson's Disease (PD).
Dr Paul Worth, one of six consultant neurologists at NNUH, was invited by the Parkinson's Disease Society to speak to MPs, patients and their carers at a reception to mark Parkinsons Awareness Week 2007, hosted by Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend.
The aim was to bring to the attention of political stakeholders some of the issues faced by those newly diagnosed with Parkinson's – these include waiting times, access to specialist neurologists/geriatricians, GP awareness and availability of appropriate information and support. The meeting was attended by the Chief Executive of the Parkinsons Disease Society, Steve Ford, their new Patron, Jane Asher, and by Health Minister, Ivan Lewis.
Dr Worth is part of a multidisciplinary team at the NNUH for patients with PD, where people not only see the consultant but also a specialist nurse, physios and occupational therapists. The NNUH team was shortlisted for Hospital Doctor Parkinsons Team of 2006 and recently became one of the only hospitals in the UK to use a new form of the oldest and best treatments for Parkinsons, the drug L-dopa, to treat patients with advanced Parkinsons, by infusing this drug through a tube, directly into the stomach, so it can get into the body more rapidly.
Dr Worth said: “One key concern is that our GP colleagues need support and information about the importance of making an early diagnosis of Parkinson's and how to spot the clues that suggest this diagnosis should be considered. If PD is suspected, NICE guidelines recommend early referral to a specialist before commencing treatment. As Parkinsons is more common in the elderly, we expect the number of people with Parkinsons to increase as the population ages, in much the same way as is expected for Alzheimers disease. We also need to make sure that nationally there are more nurse specialists who do such an important job for people with Parkinson's.
The neurology team at NNUH runs education sessions for local GPs on neurological problems three times a year.
North Norfolk MP and Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb attended the event and said: “I was really delighted to hear a leading expert from the Norfolk and Norwich addressing an audience in Parliament. Dr Worth's speech was immensely valuable in raising awareness amongst MPs. As an MP representing a constituency with a substantial number of elderly people, it was particularly relevant to me. My own father had Parkinson's Disease and I am aware that the incidence of it is likely to increase with an aging population.”
It is estimated that there are 100,000 people in the UK living with Parkinsons. Although this equates to around one for every 500 of the entire population, it affects 1 in 100 of the elderly and up to one in ten in nursing homes.
The PDS parliamentary reception was hosted by Madeleine Moon MP, and was designed to raise awareness amongst political stakeholders of the issues faced by those newly diagnosed with Parkinson's – these include waiting times, access to specialist neurologists / geriatricians, GP awareness and availability of appropriate information and support. For more information about Parkinson's Disease visit the website www.parkinsons.org.uk/