Specialist Nurses (Parkinson's Disease)

Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:19 pm on 12th January 2006.

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Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent 2:19 pm, 12th January 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to recruit and train specialist nurses to work in the community with sufferers of chronic conditions, such as Parkinson's disease. (S2O-8610)

I declare an interest: I have Parkinson's disease.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

Individual national health service boards have primary responsibility for workforce planning. That responsibility includes the recruitment and training of specialist nurses who work with sufferers of long-term conditions such as Parkinson's disease. However, we have initiated a Scotland-wide review of community nursing, which will set the direction for creating a modern, redesigned community nursing service. The review is intended to contribute to the reduction of hospital admissions, improve the management of patients with long-term conditions such as Parkinson's disease, facilitate hospital discharges and support the care and treatment of patients in their homes and community settings.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

I pay tribute to the work that the Minister for Health and Community Care, Andy Kerr, has done on long-term conditions and draw to his attention the work of the expert group that is currently producing a Parkinson's disease plan for Lothian and the Borders, which may act as a prototype. The expert assessment is that six to eight nurses are required, but there is currently only one nurse. Therefore, there are obvious resource implications, as there are with lymphoedema nurses. I know from a successful meeting that I had with the minister that there is an on-going review and ask the Executive not to shy away from providing the additional resources that will be required, because the service will be much enhanced if the current plans are properly seen through.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

We recognise the importance of the areas of specialism to which Margo MacDonald refers. We will take into careful consideration the findings of the reviews to which I and Margo MacDonald referred and will make decisions based on the evidence.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Is the minister aware of the excellent work being done at a day clinic at Borders general hospital? I know that the minister has visited it. It specialises in clients who have Parkinson's and treats them clinically and holistically. I recently met 100 of those clients. Could I suggest that, as part of the review, either the minister or the deputy minister goes to that day clinic, meets the professionals and clients and learns from them about how they deal with such a dreadful and debilitating disease while keeping up their morale and staying in the best health possible?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I certainly want to ensure that when our officials carry out the review, they take evidence from those with first-hand experience of what is required. I will, of course, pay due heed to the advice that they give me.

Photo of Nanette Milne Nanette Milne Conservative

I remind the minister that key generic issues for specialist nurses or those who aspire to become so are time and resources for training and professional development, and support for the establishment of such posts. An additional key problem has been the patchy and ad hoc development of such posts across the country. In that context, what is the Executive doing specifically to support the development of clinical nurse specialist posts in NHS Scotland in general?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

All national health service organisations have a duty to ensure that all staff have personal development plans, which includes identifying the specific training needs of members of staff. They also have a responsibility for nursing and midwifery post-registration education and for working in partnership with staff to ensure that they are supported and encouraged to maintain and develop their skills.

Under the facing the future banner, we have committed more than £10 million to several nursing and midwifery initiatives during the past three financial years, because we recognise the importance of maintaining training opportunities in order to enable greater specialism in the future.