NHS Western Isles has announced the appointment of the first Western Isles Parkinson’s Disease Specialist Nurse.
Debbie Nash, a Registered Mental Nurse with 30 years of nursing experience, has been successfully appointed to the role, and started work earlier this month.
Debbie has lived and worked in Lewis since the opening of Western Isles Hospital in 1992, when she was part of the team that set up the Acute Psychiatric Unit.
“For the past 13 years, she has been working in Clisham Ward and, during that time, she developed a special interest in Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies and movement disorders in general.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition which more commonly occurs in the later years of life. People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have perished.
Without dopamine, people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to ‘get it right’ for the Western
Isles,” says Debbie. “I will make sure that our particular service is designed to meet our particular local circumstances.
“My most important priorities for the post are to make sure that patients are at the centre of their treatment and in control of their choices, medications and treatments, with their opinions firmly central to all care.
“In particular I want to spread the message that it is vital for people who have Parkinson’s Disease to get their medication on time, every time. It can, and often does, cause significant worsening of symptoms to have medication times altered to suit other routines.”
She continued: “Although there is, as yet, no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, early diagnosis and treatment is vital in maintaining good health. Not everyone is unfortunate enough to develop extreme symptoms - in particular those receiving diagnosis early can expect to live full, healthy and long lives.
“Millions of pounds is being invested in research into Parkinson’s every year and it is hoped that there will be a treatment that will completely halt degenerative changes within the next ten years.”
Debbie added: “I am very grateful to Parkinson’s UK for sponsoring my post and for the high level of support that Parkinson’s nurses receive personally through Parkinson’s UK. I will be able to easily access support from other Parkinson’s Disease professionals and learn from those already in post in other areas.”
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “I am absolutely delighted that Debbie has accepted the role of Parkinson’s Disease Specialist Nurse. She has the experience and enthusiasm necessary to progress the development of a high quality service for local people with the Parkinson’s Disease, which will lead to improved clinical outcomes and quality of life.
Angus Macleod, a Parkinson’s UK representative who is a lay member on the Western Isles Neurological Managed Clinical Network added: “We’re delighted to welcome Debbie as our new Parkinson’s Nurse. Her appointment will fill what has been a huge gap in the care of people with Parkinson’s in the Western Isles.
“We are also immensely grateful to Parkinson’s UK for providing the initial two year financing of the post and NHS Western Isles for committing to its long term future.”