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Parkinson's disease sufferers win campaign for nurse

John and Sue Day
John and Sue Day have been fighting for a specialist Parkinson's nurse in north Powys

By Carl Yapp
BBC News

While some 6,000 people live with Parkinson's disease in Wales, there are only 14 specialist nurses to support them all.

But now one of the remotest parts of the country has become the latest to benefit from an appointment.

People with the condition in north Powys have been campaigning for years for the post to be filled, and until now have been forced to travel to hospital in England for medical help.

The only other specialist nurse in the county, which has 260 Parkinson's sufferers, covers areas in the south like Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Knighton and Rhayader.

Finally however, the north of the county has received one too.

Previously, patients had to travel over the border to Shropshire to access specialist help, and home visits were not possible
Parkinson's sufferer John Day

The news has been welcomed by campaigners John and Sue Day from the village of Bwlch y Fridd, near Newtown.

Mr and Mrs Day are one of only a handful of married couples who both have the disease.

Last year, they told BBC News there were not enough specialist nurses, especially in north Powys, and explained how they had taken their campaign to the Welsh assembly.

The nurses are seen as vital to sufferers as they not only help them but their families, too.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Michael J Fox pictured in 2000
Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox both have Parkinson's

Relations are often drafted in to care for people with the illness, but those on their own in north Powys receive no home help.

Enhance lives

The new nurse for the area will make home visits, which means Parkinson's sufferers will be spared a lengthy journey across the border where support services were based.

Mr Day, who is also vice-chairman of the Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS) Montgomeryshire branch, said: "We are delighted at the appointment of a Parkinson's specialist nurse to cover north Powys.

"There is no doubt that the appointment of a locally-based specialist nurse will enhance the lives of Parkinson's sufferers in this area.

"Previously, patients had to travel over the border to Shropshire to access specialist help, and home visits were not possible."

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease brings with it a sense of shock, isolation and uncertainty, which a specialist nurse can help deal with
Glyn Davies, Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS) Montgomeryshire

Specialist nurse Deborah Evans, who had been working as a district nurse team leader, has already taken up her post in north Powys.

She said: "I'm aware of the problems people can face accessing health services in a rural area like north Powys, so I'm delighted to have taken up the post of Parkinson's disease nurse specialist and to be developing it in the coming months."

Help and advice

Powys Local Health Board, which is helping to fund the post, said it was confident Ms Evans would "bring real benefits" to disease sufferers.

Montgomeryshire's PDS president, Glyn Davies, described the appointment as "wonderful news".

He added: "A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease brings with it a sense of shock, isolation and uncertainty, which a specialist nurse can help deal with.

"For years we've campaigned for a specialist nurse to be appointed, and its wonderful news for the Montgomeryshire Parkinson's Disease Society that, finally, we have someone close at hand to give help and advice to people affected by this awful disease."

Parkinson's attacks the part of the brain that controls our movement, and affects activities we take for granted, such as talking, walking, swallowing and writing.

Repetitive shaking, known to sufferers as tremors, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, insomnia and lethargy are just some of the symptoms.

In recent years the likes of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Michael J Fox have raised awareness about the disease.



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