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National campaign urges Parkinson’s patients to talk to their community pharmacy team about their medication

A new national community pharmacy public health campaign will take place in 714 community pharmacies across Wales throughout June. The campaign will help the 8,000 people in Wales living with Parkinson’s to understand the importance of taking their medication on time

It is vital that people with Parkinson’s take their medicines at the right time, every time. The drug regimens associated with Parkinson’s are complex and vary between individuals. If people with Parkinson’s are unable to take their medication on time their condition can deteriorate significantly within a matter of hours, sometimes leading to irreparable damage to their health.

The campaign will raise awareness of the support services available through pharmacies for families and carers of Parkinson’s patients. The Welsh Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE) at Cardiff University has arranged special training sessions around Wales for pharmacists on aspects of the Parkinson’s condition and the crucial importance of timing for Parkinson’s medication. Over 170 pharmacists have attended the special training sessions at venues across Wales

People living with Parkinson’s in Wales are being encouraged to visit their community pharmacy during the campaign month of June if they have any concerns about their medication.

Parkinson’s is one of the most common neurological conditions, it is estimated that around 8,000 people in Wales are living with the condition which is characterised by tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement (bradykinesia). Parkinson’s symptoms worsen over time and there is no cure. Although falls and postural instability can occur at any stage, they become more frequent as the condition progresses.

Parkinson’s is widely thought of as a movement disorder, but there are significant and wide ranging non-motor symptoms such as cognitive impairment including depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Recent research by Parkinson’s UK has shown that people with Parkinson’s, often suffer stigma and discrimination arising from a lack of public awareness of the disease. This can have a profound impact upon people’s quality of life and ability to manage their condition. The community pharmacy campaign hopes to raise public understanding of the challenges that living with Parkinson’s brings.

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, Russell Goodway, said: "As the medicines experts in the NHS family, the community pharmacy network across Wales are ideally placed to be providing essential help to the 8,000 people in Wales diagnosed with Parkinson’s to take their medication on time every time, as well as to be supporting their families and carers. Pharmacies will also use the campaign to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease with the 50,000 people who visit them every day. We hope that every day during the campaign another Parkinson’s patient will introduce themselves to their pharmacist for the first time.

Mr Goodway added: “This “Parkinson’s Medication – Talk to Your Pharmacy Team” national community pharmacy public health campaign is the latest in a series of national campaigns that Community Pharmacy Wales organises with the 7 Health Boards, Public Health Wales and the third sector. We are pleased to be working with Parkinson’s UK Wales and their 30 local groups across Wales. We are also pleased that this particular campaign is contributing to the Welsh Government’s Neurological Conditions Delivery Plan."

Country Director for Wales at Parkinson's UK, Barbara Locke, said “The community pharmacist is often the ‘go to’ person for advice for people with Parkinson’s and I’m delighted that this partnership campaign will mean that every community pharmacy across Wales holds our latest information about Parkinson’s medication issues and the range of support available from Parkinson’s UK in each locality. Our 30 local support groups will play a huge part in the campaign and we hope the result will be better understanding and even stronger links between them and their local pharmacist.

Principal Pharmacist for Public Health Wales, Andrew Evans, said: “Pharmacies are a great place to get this message out that people diagnosed with Parkinson’s need to take their medication on time every time. Pharmacies are a valuable community resource which we all use and pharmacists have an extremely important role to play with people with Parkinson’s and their carers. By helping people get their medicines when they need them, pharmacists can help alleviate the anxiety some people might have when at home, managing their own medication.

The campaign is organised by the seven Health Boards, Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales, Parkinson’s UK and is supported by the Welsh Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE) at Cardiff University.