18 June 2013

S4M-06551 Parkinson’s Nurses

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Elaine Smith): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-06551, in the name of James Kelly, on Parkinson’s nurses in Scotland providing effective, safe, person-centred care. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the report, Parkinson’s nurses in Scotland: providing effective, safe, person-centred care, which outlines what it considers the central role of Scotland’s Parkinson’s nurses in helping people with Parkinson’s to manage their condition; understands that these specialist nurses make financial savings to the NHS by preventing unnecessary hospital and care home admissions, reducing waiting times, improving symptom control and medication management and supporting people to manage their own condition; understands that there are about 10,000 people with Parkinson’s in Scotland and that this number is expected to increase over the coming years; supports the Healthcare Improvement Scotland clinical standards for neurological health services, which state that everyone with Parkinson’s should have access to a Parkinson’s nurse from the point of diagnosis onwards; understands that Parkinson’s UK has made significant investment in providing pump-prime funding to develop Parkinson’s nurse posts across Scotland; welcomes the progress that NHS boards have made and continue to make in providing access to Parkinson’s nurses, with recent appointments in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian and active negotiations underway in NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles; understands that, despite this progress, there are some areas of Scotland where it is difficult or impossible to access a Parkinson’s nurse, and looks forward to a future where everyone with Parkinson’s has ongoing access to a Parkinson’s nurse, no matter where they live.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

Let me start by congratulating James Kelly on giving us the opportunity to have the debate tonight. I have not signed the motion; that is down to pure inadvertence and was certainly not deliberate. Because I was speaking in another debate in the chamber this afternoon, I was unable to hear Harry Hay and the many other people in the gallery, but I am absolutely sure that they put their points across extremely well.

I congratulate Parkinson’s nurses throughout Scotland. Neither of my predecessors in the debate made reference to the service to the carers of those who suffer from Parkinson’s, which is part of the service that is delivered by those nurses. As with many long-term conditions, it is unlikely that Parkinson’s is something that a person suffers alone; it is shared with many others around them.

In NHS Grampian, which is the health board that covers my constituency, we are relatively fortunate in having four Parkinson’s nurses. James Kelly highlighted the briefing by Parkinson’s UK for his work with NHS Lanarkshire, and I hope that he continues with that.

We meet Parkinson’s in many different circumstances, and of course not all tremors are Parkinson’s related, and not all Parkinson’s sufferers suffer from a single disease.

The effects of the disease were brought home vividly to me on a nine-hour flight when I was sitting beside someone who I believe probably had Parkinson’s—they certainly had a tremor that continued for nine hours. I did not get to sleep, but I thought about how lucky I was to have only nine hours of mild inconvenience, whereas the person sitting beside me had a substantial difficulty that he would experience for a long time.

There are many causes of Parkinson’s. My father, who was a GP, always worried that my mother would develop it as a by-product of having had diphtheria when she was a child. Many of the causes are not so obviously connected to something like that. Research is comparatively modest, compared to other areas, perhaps because there does not seem to be too great a prospect of financial benefit to the pharmaceutical companies from curing the disease or developing Parkinson’s-specific drugs. There are lots of treatments for the symptoms, which vary from person to person, but not a lot is spent on considering bigger and bolder interventions that might make a real difference to the people who are represented in the gallery today.

I have always taken an interest in mental health in particular; in a significant proportion of cases, diseases such as Parkinson’s are accompanied by mental ill-health. When people are struck from out of the blue by a disease, at the age of 50 or 60—or younger, when they still expect many years of productive life—there can be a mental impact as well as a physical one. I hope and believe that the Parkinson’s nurses will address that as well.

On carers, I hope that we will hear in the debate that carers are an important part of the support that can be given to Parkinson’s sufferers.

I end by once again congratulating James Kelly and Parkinson’s nurses on the work that they have done.


Stewart Stevenson
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