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Call over Parkinson's nurse cuts

Reducing the number of Parkinson's nurses in England could cost the NHS millions, a charity has warned.

Parkinson's UK said that the health service could incur annual costs of £19.5m if the number of nurses working in the community is slashed.

In a report for NHS commissioners, the charity cited the costs on rising numbers of admissions and greater involvement from consultants in the event of nurse numbers being cut.

It also claimed there could be further annual costs of up to £15.6m as patients would be spending more time in hospital.

The charity, which launched a campaign to keep frontline nurses out of cuts plans, said the NHS could save a further £7.1m by taking on another 60 nurses.

In research conducted earlier this year, the charity found that some 19% of nurses had a caseload of more than 700 Parkinson's sufferers - against official recommendations of an average of 300 patients.

Some 27% of nurses said their patients had been affected by changes to the way they work in recent months, with home visits scrapped and less administrative support.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson's UK, said: "We're deeply concerned that the Parkinson's nurses that we have helped put in place could be under threat.

"Even though there is uncertainty over commissioning arrangements in parts of the UK, there's no uncertainty about the money that Parkinson's nurses can save and the massive difference they make to the lives of people with Parkinson's."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Our plans to modernise the NHS will help improve support for people with Parkinson's."

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