Parkinson's UK at the Lib Dem conference last week

Last week was a busy time for members of our Policy and Campaigns team, who found themselves bustling around Birmingham for the annual Liberal Democrat party conference.

As well as providing the opportunity for people with Parkinson's and charity representatives to meet with key politicians, policy makers and opinion formers, the conference enabled us to increase awareness of Parkinson's through our unique 'rigidity machine' at our exhibition stand.

The machine emulates the rigidity experienced by people with Parkinson's. This allowed visitors to engage with a key physical aspect of the condition and helped them experience just one of the associated symptoms of Parkinson's.

A highlight of the conference came when an Early Day Motion on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Work Capability Assessments was passed. This puts the onus on Lib Dem ministers to oppose an arbitrary time of a year for some claimants to receive ESA. And it helps to maintain pressure on the Government in regards to current concerns surrounding people with genuine medical conditions being denied access to vital benefits.

As well as attending various fringe events, we also hosted our own, in collaboration with Arthritis UK and The Stroke Association.

At our fringe event - called 'Mind the gap - How can we bring health and social care together in the new NHS' - senior panel members discussed issues such as current social care needs, gaps that exist in accessing care, and barriers with funding and integration between health and social care professionals.

A final key development was Minister of State for Care Services, Paul Burstow MP acknowledging the need for clinical neurology networks and clinical advice for neurology within the NHS Commissioning Board.

We're expecting just as gruelling a schedule at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool this week. And we can only hope for equally positive outcomes.

Tell us what you think about the passing of the Employment and Support Allowance motion below, or email us at

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