Brain cells under a microscope

Scottish centre for DBS surgery secured

Date

We're celebrating a major campaign success. The Scottish Government has committed to establishing a Scottish centre for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery in Glasgow by Autumn 2016.

What is DBS?

In DBS, signals from an electrical implant in the brain help reduce Parkinson's symptoms, such as tremor and stiffness.

It is not a cure and it is not suitable for everyone, but it can give some people better control of their symptoms.

It may help to reduce some movement symptoms of Parkinson's, such as slowness of movement, stiffness and tremor.

It can also mean that someone has to take less medication, which can reduce the risk of side effects, such as involuntary movements (dyskinesia).

Access to DBS in Scotland has been disrupted

Access to DBS for people with advanced Parkinson's in the East of Scotland has been disrupted since 2012.

Since 2013, people from Northern and Eastern Scotland have been forced to travel to centres in England for assessment, surgery and follow up care.

We've worked very closely with people affected by Parkinson's, specialist doctors and the NHS to resolve the situation.

Last October, NHS Scotland ordered that a Scottish DBS specialist centre should be the number one priority for a new specialist service in Scotland. But in January, NHS Board Chief Executives said that they couldn't afford to put any new services in place.

Working with specialist doctors

We coordinated an open letter to Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Health. It was signed by 26 senior doctors with expertise in Parkinson's and dystonia from across Scotland.

The letter said that the current situation is "highly unsatisfactory and inequitable" and outlined "major concerns about accessibility, patient wellbeing, clinical care and sustainability" with current services.

The doctors identified that some people who could benefit from DBS were missing out on being referred for treatment because of these concerns.

News coverage prompts action

We published the letter and arranged for Dr Ed Newman, a neurologist based in Glasgow, to appear on BBC Radio Scotland's breakfast news programme to highlight the issue.

An hour later, the Cabinet Secretary promised a timetable for establishing the new centre. This arrived by letter the next day, with a commitment that a Scotland-wide centre for DBS will be "live" by the autumn.

After months of waiting for a firm commitment, this is great news.

We will be monitoring developments to make sure that NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government meet this pledge. 

Help us by sharing your story

To help us campaign, we need to hear from people in Scotland who have experience of DBS. Please contact us on 0844 225 3726 or email cam.scotland@parkinsons.org.uk to share your story.