Experts issue warning over care of Parkinson’s patients

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The risk of people with Parkinson’s disease dying after being admitted to hospital in an emergency is two-and-a-half times higher than average, experts have warned.

Patients with the condition are also almost twice as likely to spend more than three months in hospital amid concerns many do not receive the right drug treatment at the right time to relieve their symptoms.

Research by a group of experts funded by biopharmaceutical firm UCB said the NHS was facing a growing financial burden from Parkinson’s patients as the population aged they said could be reduced by cutting expensive and potentially preventable emergency admissions.

In a report, they said Parkinson’s patients are up to twice as likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency for conditions including pneumonia, physical deterioration, urinary tract infections and hip fractures.

They calculate emergency admissions for patients with the condition cost nearly £200 million or £3,338 per patient, with the cost rising with age.

Lead author neurologist Prof Carl Clarke, of Birmingham University, warned of a worsening situation ahead as the ageing population leads to an increase in Parkinson’s cases. The illness currently affects around one in 500 people, rising to one in 10 over-85s.

He said: “With the ageing population in developed countries, the number of people affected by Parkinson’s will rise with the inevitable dramatic increase in healthcare costs of hospitalisation. A greater understanding is required about the whole process of hospitalisation in Parkinson’s patients including why they are admitted, what happens during admission, and what happens on discharge.

“Only then can we develop improved processes to prevent and better manage hospitalisation. Urgent attention should be given to developing cost-effective interventions to reduce the burden of hospitalisation for patients, carers and healthcare systems.”

Overall, their analysis found 183,000 patients with the condition were admitted to hospital on 324,000 occasions between 2009-13. Around 72 per cent needed hospital care in an emergency.