THE Cork Parkinson’s Association (CPA) has voiced serious concerns over the lack of dedicated Parkinson’s nurses in Cork, saying while Ireland is a first-world country, when it comes to Parkinson’s “we are a third-world treatment country.”
The association has highlighted that there are currently no dedicated Parkinson’s disease nurses in Cork, and is campaigning for six dedicated Parkinson’s nurses to be employed in the city and county.
Tony Wilkinson, chair of the association, said that there are currently 1,250 people in Cork with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves.
He said that Parkinson’s nurses are vital in keeping patients ‘level’ which prevents them from going downhill.
Mr Wilkinson and his colleagues from the Cork Parkinson’s Association recently met with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to highlight their concerns.
The Bandon-based man, who himself suffers from Parkinson’s, said Parkinson’s nurses are needed to cater for the large number of people with the disease.
"I could be having a good day, but in an hour or so, I could be unable to move or walk, whatever. It is that bad. More help and support would be a huge help. The nurse keeps you level rather than going down. They can change your prescription and you can go from one consultant meeting to another without making drastic changes.”
The Cork Parkinson’s Association chairman said that the minister told the group he plans to introduce 20 specialist neurological nurses in this year’s budget and that six of these neurological nurses will be based in Cork, two of them being Parkinson’s nurses.
“It is good news. I have another meeting with him when the Dáil resumes. The WHO is saying Parkinson’s is getting to a level of a pandemic. We will keep pushing.”
Minister Donnelly acknowledged the shortage of Parkinson’s nurses in the Dáil in recent weeks when questioned on the issue by Cork TD Michael Collins.
“I recognise there is a shortage in the Cork and Munster area,” Mr Donnelly said.
The minister said that there are five Parkinson’s disease nurse specialists in acute neurology who are based in Limerick, St Vincent’s, Tallaght, the Mater, and Galway hospitals.
“The deputy made the point that we do not have one of the nurse specialists in Cork at the moment. That is something we need to address. We also need to do so in the context of other parts of the country,” he added.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Christopher O’Sullivan said Cork is in desperate need of Parkinson’s nurses.
“We have none in Co Cork. We need to do so much more. I’m satisfied that I have the support of Micheál Martin and the Minister for Health.”