Managing your medication in hospital

It is important you are able to take your medication on time during a hospital stay. When someone with Parkinson's doesn't get their medication at the time prescribed for them, their symptoms become uncontrolled.

This will depend on the hospital you’re going to. 

Some hospitals allow patients to bring in their own medication, if the medication is in its original packaging. If you have time, contact the hospital to find out about their self-administration policy.

If you’re able to bring your own medications with you, find out how they’ll be managed and looked after on the ward.

You might want to ask the following questions:

  • Where will my medication be stored on the ward?
  • Can I keep my medication with me?
  • If medicines need to be locked away on the ward, who will have the key?
  • Who will update the drugs chart when I take my medication?

Make sure your healthcare team is aware you’re self-administering your medication.

On the ward, keep taking your medication on time. 

Your Parkinson’s nurse may be able to help you arrange this. If you don’t have your own Parkinson’s nurse, ask if there’s one based at the hospital. They should also be able to find out if the drugs you take are stocked in the hospital pharmacy. This will alert pharmacy staff if they’re not already in stock.

During your hospital stay, you may change wards or be cared for by different members of staff. You should tell each staff member who cares for you about your medication routine.

If you can’t bring your own medication into hospital and take it yourself, you need to make sure you still get medication on time.

Don’t be afraid to remind staff each time your tablets are due. Tell them that the timing of your medication is important for helping control your condition effectively.

The timings of your medication may be different from the usual ward drug rounds. One solution may be for the nurse to carry a pill timer that rings when it’s time for your medication. Setting alarms on your mobile phone or watch can also help you keep track of time.

You can also order a free Parkinson’s UK Get It On Time washbag to use if you go into hospital. Get yours below.

Share your concerns with the on-duty senior nurse and your Parkinson’s nurse. Explain how important it is to get your medication on time. Be clear about the impact the missed dose had on your condition. Ask them to report the incident as a drug error and discuss how they’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your Parkinson’s nurse can also explain this to staff, if you would prefer.

You may find it useful to keep notes on who you spoke to, when you spoke to them, what you discussed and what was agreed. After the meeting, follow up with the staff to make sure what was agreed has been done. Never feel you are being difficult.

If you’re not given your medication on time and this continues, tell the hospital’s Adult Safeguarding Team. Their role is to make sure patients are looked after properly during their hospital stay. This includes any special needs you have relating to your medication.

You should be able to contact the Adult Safeguarding Team via your hospital’s main telephone number.

If you experience side effects from your medication, it’s important ward staff know about them.


This is a side effect of Parkinson’s medication that ward staff may not understand. On/off usually happens to people who’ve had Parkinson’s for many years, and their medication doesn’t last as long as it used to.

The ‘on’ period is when a person’s symptoms are well controlled. This means that medication is working well. When symptoms return before the next dose is due, this is known as the ‘off’ period.

If you have on/off periods, make sure the staff understand that your ability to do things will change during the day. You may need more help when you’re ‘off’ than you do when you’re ‘on’.

Download this information

Going into hospital when you have Parkinson's (PDF, 4MB)

We know lots of people would rather have something in their hands to read rather than look at a screen, so you can order printed copies of our information by post, phone or email.

Getting your medication on time

Medication is a key part of managing Parkinson’s symptoms and getting your medication at the right time is important.

The Parkinson’s UK Get It On Time campaign calls on all UK hospitals and care homes to ensure every person with Parkinson’s receives their medication on time, every time.

We caught up with Parkinson’s nurse Patsy Cotton who answers some of your questions on the topic. 

We want to make sure that you can take your own medication in hospital or that your healthcare professional makes sure you get it on time, every time.

Our range of Get It On Time resources can help. Order or download them now.

This poster can be used and distributed to promote our Get It On Time campaign.

The campaign aims to ensure that people with Parkinson's going into hospital get their medication on time, every time.

Put the poster up at your local Parkinson's UK group, or get your Parkinson's nurse to put one up at their hospital.

Download and print a get it on time poster

This clock poster can be used on hospital wards to prompt staff to make sure people with Parkinson's get their medication on time and can keep control of their symptoms.

It is laminated so it can be reused and has 2 clocks covering the full 24 hour period.

It is also available as a double-sided A5 flyer that can be kept in the Get It On Time washbag.

Order a copy of the clock on the Parkinson's UK shop.
You can also order the clock by post or phone.

These stickers can be used and distributed to promote our Get It On Time campaign. Stick them on patient medical records to remind staff that people with Parkinson's need their medication on time every time.

Order stickers on our shop

You can also order our stickers by post or phone.

The Get It On Time washbag helps people with Parkinson's to store their medication and inform hospital staff that they need to take it on time.

It includes tips on preparing for a hospital stay and a card to record your medication doses.

Order the washbag and replacement contents from our shop

You can also order replacement contents for your washbag:

You can also order these items by post or phone.

Last updated

Next update due 2028

If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]