A Parkinson’s Advanced Symptom Unit (PASU) – the first of its kind in the UK – has opened at Redcar Primary Care Hospital.
Unlike a usual 15 or 30 minute appointment, the pilot clinic offers half-day or full day appointments where specialist staff – including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and specialist nurses – have greater opportunity to assess the patient’s condition and to tailor treatment to individual needs.
Dr Neil Archibald, lead consultant neurologist, said there is a real need for specialist Parkinson’s care as one in 500 people has the disease and as the population ages then this number is only set to increase.
He said: “We’ve always done our best to see patients when we can but we have always felt our service was not as responsive to the patient as it could be – it could take up to three months for a patient to see all the different specialists they needed to.
“The key to this clinic is we have all the specialties in one place and follow-up is immediate – it’s proactive, preventative and community-based which allows us to check up and assess patients a lot more closely.”
One of the first patients to benefit from the clinic, Neil Turver, 71, from Marton said: “Parkinson’s is an extremely distressing condition making it difficult for patients to remain positive but having the specialist clinic in our backyard makes things so much better.
“It allows staff to work as a team and if any member of the team needs anything they are all together in the same building!”
The pilot clinic was set up by the Parkinson’s team from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is supported in part by a £75,000 grant from the independent healthcare charity the Health Foundation.
It also has the support of Parkinson’s UK, South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Janet Walker, chair of South Tees CCG, said: “This innovative approach to providing Parkinson’s care will not only benefit people from Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, but also those from across the North East.”
Dr Archibald added: “We have already had 23 patients visit the unit and the feedback we have had so far has been very positive.
“Two patients left saying that they felt they had “hope” now that things could be better and one relative told us that our treatment had given them their granddad back.”