New figures from Parkinson’s UK show that more than 12,000 Scots are now living with Parkinson’s, and that this number is expected to double within 50 years as the population grows and ages. Previous estimates put the number of people in Scotland with the incurable condition at around 11,000.
The charity warns that the rising numbers of people with Parkinson’s will have significant impacts on already stretched health and social care services. Parkinson’s UK is calling on Scottish Government and service providers to ensure that they are ready to meet the extra demands that the increase in Parkinson’s will bring.
Tanith Muller, Parliamentary and Campaigns Manager at Parkinson’s UK in Scotland says: “Parkinson’s is a complex condition, that typically affects every area of a person’s life. It has a huge impact on individuals, their families, carers, the NHS and the social care system. As people live longer and the number of people living with the condition increases, getting Parkinson’s care and support right is essential. .
“Around 1,500 people will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in Scotland this year – that’s 30 people every week - and these numbers are set to increase. It’s vital that our health and care service providers act now to ensure that services are in place to meet people’s needs.”
Dr Carl Counsell, Honorary Consultant Neurologist at NHS Grampian and Clinical Reader at the University of Aberdeen, says: “My colleagues and I are studying what happens over time to people who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s in Aberdeen and the North East. Our research demonstrates that Parkinson’s has a profound impact on health and wellbeing, particularly for those diagnosed at older ages. People with Parkinson’s are three times more likely to experience a major fracture than people of the same age without the condition. And there are increased complications with dementia too - people with Parkinson’s are six times more likely to develop dementia as people of the same age without the condition. Five years after being diagnosed, half needed some support with basic day-to-day activities like washing and dressing – and after a decade almost everyone did.”
“People with Parkinson’s have a very high risk of hospital admission. More often than not, these admissions are unplanned and lead to longer stays in hospital. In 2015-16 more than 4,000 people with Parkinson’s were admitted to hospital in Scotland. On average they stayed almost 18 days. That’s more than 75,000 bed days that already have to be resourced, and as the prevalence of Parkinson’s increases, the demand for services is only going to increase.
“Care and support from a team of health and social care professionals can help people with Parkinson’s to live well with the condition, and reduce emergencies – but health and social care services must be in place.”
Tanith Muller concluded: “Parkinson’s already has significant impacts on our health and social care system. People with Parkinson’s and their families want access to expert care and support to help them to manage their condition as well as possible for as long as possible These alarming figures demonstrate that Scottish Government, and health and social care providers must commit resources to support the growing numbers of people with Parkinson’s now, and plan for increasing needs in the future.