BY EMMA CONNOLLY
PEOPLE with Parkinson’s are being held prisoner in their West Cork homes because of the lack of specialised support available for them in the community.
That’s according to Bandon resident Tony Wilkinson who was diagnosed with the degenerative condition three years ago and who protested with Parkinson’s Association members outside Leinster House last week.
As Parkinson’s Awareness Week runs from April 9th-15th, the Association is pledging to pay for the training of three specialised Parkinson’s nurses to work in the community as Ireland remains the only EU country without such support. Tony, who lives on Watergate St with his wife Kate, said they had calculated each nurse would ultimately save the HSE €300,000 a year by keeping people out of hospital – and that one of them would work exclusively in West Cork.
Following his diagnosis in the UK, Tony benefited from visits from such nurses. ‘At our conference in Cork this May the Cork association will pledge to Minister Harris to pay, through fundraising, for these nurses to go to the UK for training. On top of that we’ve shown that we can save the HSE money – what more can we do? A lot of work in this area is falling on very few shoulders.’
The group is also highlighting the lack of a Parkinson’s specialist consultant at CUH for the past two years.
Protestors met with Deputy Michael Collins at Leinster House and he now plans to raise their plight in the Dail.
‘My own father had some symptoms of the condition before he died so it’s something close to my heart,’ said Deputy Collins, who is pushing for a meeting with Minister Harris to discuss the campaign.
Chief executive Paula Gilmore added: ‘Parkinson’s is the second most common degenerative neurological condition after Alzheimer’s, yet the health services for people here are not as good as in many other EU countries.’ Support groups currently exist in Bandon and Skibbereen, with plans to expand to Bantry and Castletownbere.