Help us protect front-line Parkinson's nurses

This week the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) published a report to demonstrate how almost 100,000 nurses could be lost from the NHS in the next 10 years through changes in policy and local cuts.

The RCN has already identified almost 40,000 posts that are earmarked to be lost over the next 3 years across the NHS in the UK.

And we're deeply concerned that specialist Parkinson's nurses - who can save the NHS in England more than £42million a year - are at risk of being cut.

The RCN's report is part of their Frontline First campaign to highlight the importance of nurses as front-line staff. This coincided with the launch of our Protect Parkinson's Nurses campaign on Monday this week.

We've had a great response to our campaign action so far. 60% of chief executives of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England have been emailed by the public about the value of Parkinson's nurses. And 64 people affected by Parkinson's have added their comments about Parkinson's nurses to our UK map.

This includes Ken in Edinburgh, who says: "My Parkinson's nurse is great because she provides an invaluable source of support and information on medication and lifestyle issues. She is accessible in a way that my consultant is not."

Our campaign's got off to a great start, but there's still a long way to go. We want as many people as possible to join our campaign. If you're in England use our simple template to send a message to your local PCT to protect Parkinson's nurses in your area.

If you're in the rest of the UK, add your comments to our map or see how you can get involved at a local level.

Please take action now.

2011 Mervyn Peake Awards

The 10th annual Mervyn Peake Awards take place today in London.

The 4 category winners – in art, photography, digital art and poetry – along with 12 commended entrants and the winners of the People's Choice award are gathering together at the IET Savoy Place, London to celebrate their achievements.

The winners of the 4 main categories are:

Art: Marjorie Abbott, for her painting, Enchanted Forest (image right)
Poetry: Ali Finlayson, for his poem, The Unstrung Violin
Photography: John Horwood, for his photograph, Alley Palley
Digital art: Eric Popplewell, for his film, Be Loud

This year's commended entries are:

Art: Liesl Silverstone, Sylvia Hogg and Peter Bagley
Poetry: Terry Matthews, Michael Bernard and Mo Browne
Photography: Havovy Fernandes, Andrew Fraser and Pauline McNulty
Digital art: Kenneth Smith-Simmons, Julie Clark and Jon Stamford

View the Mervyn Peake Awards 2011 winners.

Presented by Chocolat author Joanne Harris, the awards are organised by Parkinson's UK and judged by the Peake family, in memory of the late illustrator, writer and poet Mervyn Peake (1911–1968), who had Parkinson's.

The awards celebrate the creativity of people with Parkinson's. 2011 is a special year as it's the 10th anniversary of the awards and centenary of Mervyn Peake's birth. The celebrated illustrator and author of Gormenghast would have celebrated his 100th birthday this week.

Many people with Parkinson's find that having a creative outlet, like painting or photography, helps them deal with their condition. How do you express yourself? What do you do to unwind?

Tell us your stories here or email

Dementia and Parkinson's research

Up to 40% of people with Parkinson's have some form of dementia and we are currently funding a study to understand the best treatments for the condition.

Earlier this week, the Ministerial Advisory Group for Dementia Research (MAGDR) produced a report looking to identify ways in which we can improve dementia research in the UK. Our chief executive Steve Ford and our research director Kieran Breen were part of this group.

The group recognised that funders and researchers need to work more closely together to share experience.

Another recommendation was to get people with dementia and their carers involved in research, including setting up registers of people who want to take part in clinical trials, getting people's input on proposed studies, and also encouraging people to promote the research.

Our new Research Support Network is one way in which people affected by Parkinson's can do just that.

Also crucial is the development of the next generation of researchers. We already fund career development awards and postgraduate studentships to ensure that we provide every opportunity to nurture future talent. However, although the report identifies some really key areas for research development, there will be very little additional money available to fund these.

So it will be left to charities such as Parkinson's UK to continue to fund research into neurodegenerative conditions for the foreseeable future.

If you're interested in Parkinson's research, why not join our new Research Support Network? To find out more contact Emily Hughes, our Research Support Network Manager, on or 020 7963 9376.

Or take a look at other ways to get involved in our research.