National Parkinson’s experts ‘alarmed and unaware’ of changes at hospital
CHARLOTTE BOND/Parkinson's UK
People with Parkinson’s in east Suffolk “desperately need a better designed service”, a leading national research charity for the illness has warned.
Earlier this week, it emerged the advice line run by Parkinson's nurses at Ipswich Hospital had stopped suddenly, with relatives of affected patients expressing their shock at the news.
Hospital bosses told patients in a letter that the helpline, which provided help and support to those living with the disease and their families, had stopped as of last Friday.
Now national charity Parkinson's UK has come out and criticised the decision - with regional manager Kecia Harris adding she was "alarmed and unaware" of the changes to the Ipswich service until after the letters were issued.
MORE: Daughter left 'shocked' at sudden closure of Parkinson's helpline
She 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.
"In east Suffolk, all Parkinson's nurses are hospital based, so the Parkinson's nurse advice helpline was vital for older people with the condition to have direct access to specialist support when they needed it.
'Better designed service desperately needed'
She added: "We were alarmed and unaware of the changes to this service until after the letters were issued.
"We desperately need a better designed service in east Suffolk to ensure all people with Parkinson's have timely access to a Parkinson's nurse and Parkinson's UK have been calling for a review of the Parkinson's nurse service in this area for a long time."
Between 50 and 80 calls a month were made to the Ipswich Hospital advice line, bosses said.
They also came out to reassure people they are working with Suffolk GPs to make sure patients have easy access to urgent specialist help.
On Wednesday, concerned daughter Kathryn Croton told this newspaper the advice line was a "lifeline" for her 88-year-old father Leslie Tatum.
Dr Angela Tillett, interim chief medical officer at Ipswich Hospital, said: "We are looking at all the options to give patients with Parkinson's disease the best advice and support.
"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."
- Those affected by Parkinson's can call the national advice line on 0808 800 0303.