Harkin says services for those with Parkinson’s is ‘abysmal’

A North West MEP has described Ireland’s record in relation to the care of people with Parkinson’s Disease as ‘abysmal.’

Twelve thousand people in this country, including many in the north west, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

Symptoms of the condition include shaking, slowness of movement and difficulty walking.

MEP Marian Harkin is a member of the Parkinson’s Support Group in the European Parliament.

She says she was shocked to hear of the neglect of those with the condition after she recently addressed a protest meeting organised at Leinster House by the Parkinsons Association of Ireland.

Services in Ireland for those with Parkinsons compares very badly with the rest of western Europe.

Ms Harkin pointed out that western European countries have a target of four Parkinsons Nurse Specialists for every 500 patients.

However, Ireland has a total of just five nurse specialists, with only four positions filled at present, to service 12,000 patients.

Early diagnosis with appropriate medication is crucial in limiting the severity of symptoms and maintaining a reasonable quality of life.

Marian Harkin says that in the absence of government funding, it is left to voluntary fundraising to provide what, she describes as, ‘a vital safety net’ for so many people with Parkinson’s.