TV sports presenter Dave Clark is backing doctors in the fight against Parkinson’s disease.
Ilkley-born Dave, anchorman for boxing and darts with Sky Sports, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011. Now he has praised the pro-active work of NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in helping people with the disease.
The CCG has worked closely with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and as a result, a new Parkinson’s disease nurse specialist is working at Airedale Hospital, funded for two years by Parkinson’s UK. The hospital has also appointed a new consultant who will specialise in Parkinson’s disease.
“To hear about the fantastic work that is going on in and around my old home town is heart-warming and encouraging,” he said.
“When I was first diagnosed I was asked how old my children were and if I had a big mortgage. Then I was given a leaflet and told to get on with it. I felt completely alone and unsupported. It was very frightening – just as it had been for my dad years before, who also had Parkinson’s.”
Dave’s father Alan suffered from the disease for seven years. Parkinson’s made him so depressed he committed suicide 30 years ago when Dave was 17.
“For patients to have a specialist Parkinson’s nurse to talk to about their illness is invaluable,” added Dave. “I think it’s vital we get the message out there that you don’t have to go through Parkinson’s alone. This is a great step for the CCG and Airedale Hospital to have taken and I am sure Parkinson’s patients living in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven will really benefit.”
On Tuesday, as part of Parkinson’s Awareness Week which runs until Sunday, Dave spoke at a 10 Downing Street reception, at the invitation of Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron, about the importance of research into Parkinson’s in the hope that one day a cure will be found.
Dr Graeme Summers, of Ilkley Moor Medical Practice, and also an executive GP member of the CCG, added: “One of our strategic priorities is to look at redesigning and improving services in neurology. Our patients here have access to all the drugs needed to treat Parkinson’s but there is still no drug available that will delay or cure the disease.
“At the moment we can only treat the symptoms. It is clear more research is needed.
“However, it is important to remember that many people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are able to live with the disease for many years and are still able to lead full and productive lives.”
The theme of Parkinson’s Awareness Week is Putting People with Parkinson’s Back in Control, which aims to change the way the condition is viewed by the public and health professionals.
Margaret wants to help people cope with Parkinsons
The Parkinson’s nurse specialist at Airedale Hospital is backing a national campaign aimed at helping people better understand the disease.
Margaret Ormerod is staging an information display at the hospital to tie in with an awareness week, which runs until Sunday, organised by Parkinson’s UK.
Her role, funded for two years by the charity, is designed to help people cope with the condition and enjoy a better quality of life. She will work closely with the Skipton and Keighley Parkinson’s Disease groups, consultant geriatricians and neurologists.
“Parkinson’s is a big problem – affecting 400 patients in the area, who are usually seen in their own homes and at clinics,” she said. “I am keen to be a patients’ advocate, supporting them in dealing with their diagnosis and development of the disease and helping their families, who may feel isolated.
“I will also help patients to fine tune their medication, and as part of a multi-disciplinary team I can signpost them to others who can assist.
“Also I hope I can support other nursing staff on wards treating patients with Parkinson’s disease – as patients often have very complex needs – assess how they are functioning in their own environment and reduce their stay in hospital.”
Traits of Parkinson’s – caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain – can include tremors or stiffness, slow movements, depression, possibly dementia and tiredness.
Visit www.parkinsons.org.uk for further information.