Parkinson's Disease : NHS Hospitals Failing Patients

**Hospitals too often unsafe for Parkinson’s patients, says charity.

Some patients left unable to walk or talk because they do not get drugs on time.**


Many patients with Parkinson’s disease say they are not always given their drugs on time when in hospital, leaving some unable to walk or talk, according to a charity.

Parkinson’s UK said hospitals were too often unsafe for people with the disease, leaving them scared of ending up there.

Almost two in three people with Parkinson’s do not always get their medication on time while receiving inpatient care, according to the charity’s research.

Of the 700 patients questioned between May and July this year, 78% said their health had suffered as a result of poor medication management in hospital. Setbacks included tremors, anxiety and losing the ability to walk or talk.

Lloyd Tingley, the charity’s senior policy and campaigns adviser, said: “Our new report highlights the devastating consequences of when people with Parkinson’s don’t get their medication on time in hospital, resulting in people leaving in a worse state than when they went in.

“It’s clear that hospitals aren’t always the safest places for people with Parkinson’s, with many sharing with us that they’re terrified of ever having to be admitted.”

The charity claimed too many hospital staff did not properly understand Parkinson’s, a serious and incurable neurological condition that it is estimated 145,000 Britons may have. It has launched a campaign, Get It On Time, to ensure reliable access to drugs in hospital.

Mistakes in managing Parkinson’s patients’ drug needs can contribute to them staying in hospital longer than necessary. NHS figures cited by Parkinson’s UK suggest patients spent 28,860 nights a year in hospital as a result, at a cost of £10m.

Freedom of information requests by the charity found that staff at less than half of hospitals had undergone mandatory training in how to care for and manage Parkinson’s patients.

The Patients Association said the intense and growing pressures on hospitals could be to blame. Rachel Power, its chief executive, said: “People with Parkinson’s have always encountered difficulties in hospital, with non-specialist staff simply not understanding how important it is for them to get their medication strictly on time. The ongoing crisis conditions in our hospitals are almost certainly making this problem substantially worse.”

Carole Buckingham, a Parkinson’s patient from Cheshire, told the charity she felt hospital staff ignored her pleas about her drugs. “I have to take 36 tablets a day at five different times. But whilst I was in hospital I was never given my medication at the time I needed it, even though I was always asking staff and explaining to them how urgent it was,” she said.

“It was like banging my head against a brick wall. I felt ignored and like the staff didn’t understand Parkinson’s and the severity of the situation. Because of this my Parkinson’s symptoms got so much worse. One time I was given the wrong drugs but felt I had no choice but to take them because it was the only thing on offer to me. I ended up passing out. I could still hear everything going on around me and alarms going off and the staff rushing around trying to help me, but I couldn’t move or talk. It was terrifying.”

An NHS England spokesperson said: “Patients with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions are among the most vulnerable in our society and all parts of the NHS strive to provide them with the best care possible. This summer we published guidance, in partnership with charities such as Parkinson’s UK, to help local NHS staff take practical steps to improve the care for these patients in our hospitals.”

Very true in the US also. Many cases of people from a PD support group I used to attend were cautioned about having an advocate visit when in hospital. Many stories of not getting meds on time or of bad drug/ anesthetic agent interactions whilst in hospital.