The Parkinson’s team at The James Cook University Hospital has been selected by the Health Foundation, an independent healthcare charity, to be part of its new £1.5 million innovation programme.
The “Innovating for Improvement” programme is supporting 17 healthcare projects in the UK, with the aim of improving healthcare delivery and the way people manage their own healthcare by testing and developing innovative ideas and approaches and putting them into practice.
One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s disease. Hospital outpatient clinics struggle to meet the often complex needs of patients, particularly when it comes to symptoms such as falls, freezing episodes, hallucinations and dementia.
The initiative from James Cook will set up a “Parkinson’s advanced symptom unit” (PASU) based in a local community day hospital to provide rapid access, specialist care for people struggling with their Parkinson’s symptoms.
Rather than seeing patients for 15 to 30 minutes, the PASU will offer half-day or all-day appointments, enabling a more complete assessment of complex issues, from a wide variety of team members.
The clinic will be open to referrals from patients and carers themselves, as well as primary care providers and community-based teams, and will function as a centre of excellence, offering training to doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who work in the region.
Over the course of the programme the team will develop its innovative idea and approach, put it into practice, and gather evidence about how the innovation improves the quality of healthcare.
The team will be led by Dr Neil Archibald, consultant neurologist from James Cook. He will be supported by members of the Parkinson’s team as well as Parkinson’s UK and mental health specialists from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Archibald said: “We are thrilled to receive this award and are looking forward to working with the Health Foundation. We believe the PASU has the potential to significantly improve the lives of our patients and their families. We hope the evidence gathered will help other regions looking to change Parkinson’s services for the better.”
Angus Bell, senior clinical director at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is a great example of neurology and psychiatry working together to improve the outcome for patients.”
Libby Keck, programme manager from the Health Foundation said: “We are very excited to be working with such a high-calibre of teams, who all have great innovative ideas. As an organisation we are keen to support innovation at the frontline, therefore I am pleased that we will be able to support these ambitious teams to develop and test their innovative ideas over the next year.
“Our aim is to promote the effectiveness and real impact of the teams’ innovations and show how they have succeeded in improving the quality of healthcare, with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK health service.”
The programme will run for 15 months and each project will receive up to £75,000 of funding to support the implementation and evaluation of the project.