HUNDREDS of east Cheshire Parkinson’s patients who lost their dedicated nurse in February are still waiting for the service to resume nine months on.

The Parkinson’s specialist nurse service was provided by East Cheshire NHS Trust (ECT) until February, when the nurse left the trust’s employment.

ECT then served notice on running the service to NHS Eastern Cheshire clinical commissioning group (CCG) – the body that plans and buys healthcare in the area – as it was not considered financially viable to continue.

At that point, the service had a caseload of 394 patients – including 218 seen in clinic, 85 seen in nursing homes and 91 housebound patients seen in their own homes.

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust was chosen to take over the service, and in July it made an offer to a candidate to become the new specialist Parkinson’s nurse for east Cheshire.

But the candidate went on to turn down the role – and now Salford Royal has been forced to advertise the position for a second time.

The CCG says it ‘appreciates this has been a difficult time for patients’, that it is treating the situation ‘as a high priority’ and it will keep patients informed.

There are 435 people in the Eastern Cheshire CCG area that are currently known to have Parkinson’s, but not all of those patients require the nursing service.

A spokesman at the CCG said: “The CCG concurred with ECT that transferring the service to a larger provider would be in the best interests of patients as it would be less vulnerable to staffing issues and benefit from a greater collective skill base and economies of scale.

“While Salford Royal was undergoing the necessary pre-appointment checks and procedures, unfortunately and regrettably the candidate notified Salford Royal that they no longer wished to take up the post.

“This means that Salford Royal has now re-advertised the post to recommence the recruitment process. The CCG is currently working closely with Salford Royal to source a short-term provision of service.

“On October 4, the CCG met with representatives of Parkinson’s UK. There was agreement that the two organisations would continue to work collaboratively to reassure patients and ensure their needs were met as effectively as possible until the replacement specialist service was in place.”

The CCG and ECT have written to all affected patients to explain the current situation, advising them to contact their consultant or GP with any serious or immediate concerns, and providing them with details of the Patient Advice and Liaison Service for any non-clinical queries.

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Further advice can also be found by calling Parkinson’s freephone helpline on 0808 800 0303.

The line is staffed by Parkinson’s nurses who can offer help and assistance, including information on local support groups.

It is open from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.