THE PARKINSON’S Association in Limerick wants some of the 20 new specialist neurological nurse posts announced by the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly assigned to the county – especially as the Association helped get the existing Limerick nurses by paying half their wages.
The Minister last week promised to provide money in the budget for the nursing posts but the Limerick branch of the Parkinson’s Association has already recruited two nurses by paying 50 per cent of their salary for the first two years and are now advertising a third position, for which they will pick up half the tab.
They have also paid the salary of a secretary to look after the paperwork generated by the work of the senior nurses.
“There is certainly work here for more nurses. They are vitally important to the patients. Consultants make a diagnosis and then the patient goes home and they need support,” Una Anderson Ryan, Chairperson of the Limerick Association told the Limerick Post.
“Our nurses work in the hospital and in the community holding clinics. They meet every patient, advise on medication and help when there are problems.
“They cover all of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary which is a huge amount of work. Parkinson’s is such a wide ranging disease and can affect people in so many ways.”
The Association also provides hydrotherapy, voice work and dance therapy out of its own funds. They get no government funding but provides free services through fundraising or private donations.
“Certainly, we need more nurses. We also need physiotherapists, speech and language therapists. We have 450 people with Parkinson’s registered with us, but there are many more people who are trying to manage the condition with just GP support. They need to have neurology services.”
Cancelled appointments and delays due to understaffing combined with the Covid-19 pandemic have had a massive effect on people living with Parkinson’s. There are now tens of thousands of patients waiting for the vital care they need.
Across the country there are only six Parkinson’s specialist nurses, four of which are Dublin based, covering 12,000 people. This leaves four out of five people with Parkinson’s with no access to specialised care.
In response to a query on Neurology staffing , the Limerick Post was told, “the deficits in UL Hospitals Group’s Neurology Service are acknowledged, and addressing any deficits is a priority for the Group.
“The service’s two specialist nurses in neurology are supported by a total of nine nursing staff; providing services in Parkinson’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and in the stroke service. These nurses are a mix of clinical nurse specialists, clinical nurse managers and an advanced nurse practitioner.
“Our neurology service works with the designated stroke/neurology ward in UHL, where all staff are trained to care for neurology patients in a multidisciplinary approach.
“UL Hospitals Group would welcome any additional resources to support our Neurology service.”
Anyone who needs services can log on to Parkinsons.ie or contact Una on 087 2511156.