Earlier this month, staff and volunteers headed to the Conservative and Labour party conferences to speak to MPs and delegates about how they can support our work.
Joining us from the Parkinson’s community were the brilliant Ann, Andrew, Tim, Caroline and Clive who shared their experiences of Parkinson’s with MPs and conference delegates.
With a general election on the horizon, we need to make sure the needs of people with Parkinson’s are firmly on the political agenda.
That is why we are calling on the government to make sure:
- people living with the condition get their medication on time
- that there’s the NHS workforce in place and
- that the government provides the right financial support for the Parkinson’s community.
Sharing the community’s priorities at the Conservative conference
During our time in Manchester, we spoke to a number of Conservative MPs including Sir Desmond Swayne, Jason McCartney and Peter Aldous.
Staff and volunteers attended various meetings on health and welfare-related topics. We asked questions about what a future Conservative government would do to improve access to care and financial support for people living with long-term health conditions
Sue Christoforou, Policy Manager (Financial Health) at Parkinson's UK, said:
"The conference provided a brilliant opportunity for Parkinson’s UK staff and people with the condition to meet MPs and ministers, including the minister for employment. And, as a result of our meeting, he’s agreed to a more in-depth discussion about what works in supporting people with Parkinson’s to gain and retain employment."
Exploring the future of the NHS at the Labour conference
At the Labour Party conference, held in Liverpool, we joined forces with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the British Geriatrics Society to hold a panel discussion called ‘Building an NHS fit for the future’.
Juliet Tizzard, Director of External Relations at Parkinson’s UK, made the case for NHS services that are designed to meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s.
"It was great to talk about what people living with Parkinson’s need from the NHS. The panel agreed that getting care right for people with the condition, could see improvements for many people with other long-term conditions.
"The NHS needs to provide access to the right health care professionals, at the right time, make sure people get their medication on time when they’re in hospital and also ensure that digital technology can be rolled out faster, with training, to enable health professionals to monitor and manage symptoms. It helped us to get Parkinson’s up the political agenda."
We also spoke to Labour MPs Navendu Mishra, Peter Dowd, Tonia Antoniazzi, Afzal Khan, Mohammad Yasin, Rachel Hopkins, Tahir Ali, Lord Dubs, and members of the shadow health and social care team about our campaigning priorities and how they could help.
Volunteers making an impact
During the conferences, volunteers shared their experiences of living with Parkinson’s with MPs.
Ann and Andrew, who attended the Conservative conference, said:
"It’s really interesting to be there and see how it works. It is a chance to express yourself and raise concerns. The MPs we spoke to were interested to learn more about Parkinson’s and the issues we were raising. This was a chance to make a real difference."
The volunteers made a great impact with MPs, stating it was the highlight of their conference.
While the conferences are over, our work continues as we brief and share more information with MPs. We’ll also be preparing what we want from a new government ahead of the general election.