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New Advanced Nurse Practitioner Led Parkinson’s Clinic commences in Sligo

   Gavan Duffy, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Movement Disorders. Gavan is seated in an office. He is waering a blue shirt. A large colourful painting is visible behind him.

A new Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) led Parkinson’s Clinic has recently commenced at Sligo University Hospital (SUH).

Established by SUH and Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo (CDLMS), the clinic aims to integrate the service for all patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (under the care of a Consultant Neurologist or Consultant Geriatrician at SUH or Community Healthcare CDLMS) into a single ANP led clinic for assessment and follow-up care.

Gavan Duffy, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Movement Disorders, and Clinic Lead, explained that his role is to “provide a full comprehensive neurological assessment of people with Parkinson’s disease. I give advice and support to patients, families, and carers. If needed, I can refer patients to other healthcare professionals for follow-up care. Currently, I manage approximately 400 patients through outpatient, telephone, and virtual review clinics.

“This new clinic is the first step towards a more integrated approach in the management of Parkinson's disease. It will ensure we are able to provide more regular reviews of people with Parkinson’s, improve patient outcomes, while lowering hospital admissions. It also means we can free up consultants to see people with other conditions."

“My hope is that this clinic will ultimately embrace a fully multidisciplinary-team approach to Parkinson's disease. We are planning for it to include evaluations by a speech and language therapist, dietician, occupational therapist and physiotherapist,” added Gavin.

After qualifying with a Diploma in Nursing in 2001, Gavan undertook his nursing training at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. During that time he worked in a variety of specialties, including the National Spinal Unit, Urological Surgery, Orthopaedics, and Haemodialysis.  He began his career in neurology as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Multiple Sclerosis, and after obtaining his Master's degree in Advanced Nursing Practice from University College Dublin in 2020, he became an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Movement Disorders.

According to Maura Heffernan, Director of Nursing at SUH, this new nurse-led service will provide an “advanced level of nursing practice that provides in-depth nursing knowledge and expertise in meeting the health needs of individuals living with Parkinson's disease and their families.”

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s disease. There are approximately 15,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in Ireland.

'Redefining patient care'

Grainne McCann, SUH Hospital Manager, outlined how “advanced nurse practitioners are redefining patient care via an enlarged scope of practice, more clinical autonomy, and decision-making. This ANP service represents a significant advancement in an integrated approach to the management and care of Parkinson’s disease. It does this by combining hospital and community services to provide high-quality patient-centred care in one place, in a timely manner.”

Melissa Kelly, General Manager, Older Persons Services, Community Healthcare CDLMS, added that the new clinic was a “positive achievement in the move towards integrated management and care delivery. The clinic will ensure patients using the service will receive specialist knowledge which will improve patient outcomes and lived experience.”