Daughter left ‘shocked’ at sudden closure of Parkinson’s helpline
The daughter of an 88-year-old with Parkinson’s and dementia has hit out at a decision to close a service she describes as a “lifeline” for her father.
Leslie Tatum, from Claydon, has been unwell for around eight years and relied heavily on a Parkinson's helpline run by Ipswich Hospital.
That was until a few days ago, when he received a letter informing him the advice line held by the Parkinson's nurse specialist - which provides help and support to those living with the disease - was no longer going to be in operation.
Ipswich Hospital bosses said between 50 and 80 calls a month were made to the advice line and they are now looking at all the options to give patients the best advice and support.
But Mr Tatum's daughter Kathryn Croton, who lives in Mellis near Eye, said: "I think it's absolutely appalling that they can just cut a service like this without any warning.
"It almost seems as if it's gone under the radar - in the letter, they didn't give any reason for them stopping it.
"I am shocked because the number of people with Parkinson's is going up and up so I don't see why they would get rid of it."
The letter, sent to patients at the end of last week, states the advice line would no longer be in operation from Friday, February 21 onwards.
It signposts patients to other parts of the NHS such as GPs and pharmacists, before listing a number of charities such as Suffolk Family Carers as alternative options.
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Ms Croton added: "I've spoken to dad's GP and Parkinson's UK and they knew nothing about this.
"I am massively concerned - not just about my dad, but also all of the other people in the Ipswich area with the illness.
"All the charities and other people they've given on the list are not going to be able to help, especially not in the same way the helpline did.
"It was a lifeline for my dad, really vital for him and people like him, because you can call up and within a couple of hours sometimes sooner than that someone will call you back.
She added: "They know all of dad's medical records - I'm worried that now we'll get someone who knows nothing about him.
"They've said you can see the GP but there is a four to five week wait for appointments and even then they will refer you to the team at Ipswich Hospital."
Hospital 'looking at all the options'
Dr Angela Tillett, interim chief medical officer at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) which runs Ipswich Hospital, said they are working with GPs to ensure easy access to urgent specialist clinical help for patients with Parkinson's.
She added: "We are looking at all the options to give patients with Parkinson's disease the best advice and support.
"Between 50 to 80 calls a month were made to the advice line.
"We have written to every patient who has been supported by the advice line and this letter highlights all the other sources of help available.
"We would like to reassure everyone that we are also working with our GP colleagues to make sure they have easy access to urgent specialist clinical help for patients with Parkinson's Disease when they need it."
Kecia Harris, area development manager for the east of England at Parkinson's UK, added: "People with Parkinson's frequently tell us their Parkinson's nurse is a lifeline.
"As well as advising on the complex medication regimes that are crucial to managing symptoms, these nurses have been proven to save the NHS money by reducing hospital admissions and consultant appointments."
- Those affected by Parkinson's can call the national advice line on 0808 800 0303.