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GPs failing to refer for Parkinson’s disease

By Nigel Praities

GPs are failing to refer one in five patients with Parkinson's disease for specialist diagnosis, according to a new survey.

Figures from 13,000 members of the Parkinson's Disease Society found the numbers of patients diagnosed by the GPs had been reduced by 40%, compared to a decade ago.

But the PDS said it was ‘extremely worrying' that 21% of patients in the past year still received their diagnosis of Parkinson's disease from a GP, in direct opposition to NICE guidance released in 2006.

NICE says a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease should be confirmed by a specialist within 6 weeks, with shorter waiting times for those with more progressive disease.

Steve Ford, chief executive of the PDS, said: ‘Specialist care is vital for people with Parkinson's and our survey reveals that whilst there have been a number of improvements across the UK, many people are still being let down by their local services from the time of diagnosis onwards,' said

Helen Hosker, a GPSI in elderly people's care in Manchester, said GPs should be very wary of making such an important diagnosis without specialist support.

‘I am quite surprised that GPs are making the diagnosis of patients and not referring on. I would certainly would have though this was not in the patient's best interest,' she said.

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