Five specialist nurses for 12,000 Parkinson’s sufferers, says group

Protesters criticise lack of Government funding for Parkinson’s association and members

Joseph Gilleece, centre, from Turners Cross, Co Cork,  and the Cork Parkinson’s Association at a protest outside the Dáil on Thursday to demand better funding for those with the disease. Photograph: James Forde

Joseph Gilleece, centre, from Turners Cross, Co Cork, and the Cork Parkinson’s Association at a protest outside the Dáil on Thursday to demand better funding for those with the disease. Photograph: James Forde

 

Only five specialist nurses are provided by the HSE for the 12,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease in Ireland, with three of those located in Dublin.

That’s according to the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, which organised a protest outside Leinster House on Thursday.

About 60 protesters from across the country jointed the protest on World Parkinson’s Day at which they criticised the lack of Government funding for their association and member services.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term neurological condition that affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing.

Irish patients hoping to avail of deep brain stimulation surgery for the condition currently have to travel to the UK and the association says this is in doubt due to Brexit.

Paula Gilmore, chief executive of the association, said the surgery can make a radical difference to patients.

Brexit

“All patients suitable for the procedure still have to travel to England to undergo it,” she said. “No one knows how it will work if there is a hard Brexit.”

Ms Gilmore said the charity received no Government funding, which they “badly need”.

Sinead Kane (56) from Harold’s Cross in Dublin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002.

“I’m managing quite well, I worked for 16 years with it but I find now that I can’t write and walking is getting harder and harder. My speech is starting to deteriorate but I don’t suffer too much from shakes,” she said.

“We need more Government funding, we need core Government funding. Parkinson’s is the only charity in the country that I know of that doesn’t get any Government funding.”

Eugene Cashell (64) from Goatstown, Dublin, was diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago.

“You do everything slower – the faster you try to do something the worse it gets. It’s trying to manage that,” he said.

‘Nothing is happening’

“We were here last year as well and we’re trying to get a solution to the same things. Nothing is happening. We’re doing as much as we can to help sufferers. We’ve set up a number of exercise centres right across Dublin but there’s no money being given at all.”

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys called for additional nurses and specialised units across the country.

“What we have is a hidden disease with no central government support. Everything that’s done for the Parkinson’s society is all voluntary,” he said.

“There’s no financial allocation from central government and they need more support.”