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Parkinson's specialist nurses - still crucial?

Emma Edwards 29 Apr 2024

The first Parkinson's specialist nurse (PSN) post was created in Cornwall in 1987, and 37 years later, there are around 515 PSN's in the UK. This blog takes a look at Parkinson's awareness month, and why, if you see a PSN post advertised, and you fit the criteria, you should totally apply.


The 11 April is Parkinson's Awareness Day, held in honour of Dr James Parkinson's, who first wrote about the condition in his essay 'The Shaking Palsy' in 1817. However, not content with just having one day for raising awareness, the Parkinson's community have taken over the whole month.

Parkinson's, a progressive neurological condition, does not discriminate. Although more likely to touch the lives of older people, anyone of any age can develop Parkinson's. Indeed, it's believed that up to 10 per cent of people with the condition are under the age of 50. This April, we have seen and heard, more than I can ever remember, the voice of the person with Parkinson's. For example, the Movers and Shakers podcasters, alongside Parkinson's UK, Spotlight YOPD and Cure Parkinson's have marched on Downing Street with a proposed Charter, signed by thousands of people, demanding better access to healthcare. There were webinars, talks, news reports, short films, radio interviews, people raising money for charity with events such as skipping everyday, running the London marathon, and cake sales. There were even buns baked with a chocolate poo emoji on top to raise awareness of constipation management in Parkinson's.

I have been a Parkinson's specialist nurse for 14 years. It's a role that is both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The complexity of the patient has changed, my prescribing duties have widened, caseloads have increased and resources seem harder to access. Why do I stay in this role then I hear you shout at the back? Well, I still feel my role makes a difference to other people's lives. There is nothing like that feeling when you prescribe, or adjust a treatment regime and the person's quality of life improves. The absolute pride of being part of a wider community that continually strives for excellence and better treatments, as well as a cure for this disease. The privilege of being part of this journey with people and their families is second to none.

So, if you see a post advertised for a Parkinson's nurse or practitioner, just take a closer look, and then consider applying. We are a crucial cog in the wheel for improving healthcare for people with Parkinson's. If you would like to find out more about how important Parkinson's nurses are, or find out more about the condition, please do have a look at the links below:


Emma Edwards

RCN Neuroscience Committee Member

Parkinson's specialist nurse

Emma, who is also a mental health nurse, has been a Parkinson's specialist nurse since 2010. She supports people with Parkinson's in Plymouth and West Devon. 

Page last updated - 30/04/2024