2018 in review: the UK Parkinson's Excellence Network

Dr Donald Grosset, Clinical Director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network, reflects on the Network's progress in 2018, his first year in post.

"2018 has been a really big year for the Excellence Network. We started with our second Excellence Network Awards in January, and recruited a multidisciplinary clinical leadership team in April.

"We involved over 12,000 health and social care professionals in Parkinson's learning throughout the year, and we continued a programme of Excellence Network regional and working group meetings across the UK that were attended by more than 1,000 of our health and care colleagues.

"With all of this, we continue to share innovations and fulfil our goal to improve Parkinson’s care. 

2018 Excellence Network awards

"The Excellence Network is committed to sharing and showcasing best practice in Parkinson's care, and our 2018 awards celebrated that aim.

"The winners of the second Excellence Network Awards were announced on 25 January, as part of the 2018 BritMODIS Conference.

"Our 3 winning teams indicated the breadth of services involved in improving care, with improvement projects covering several healthcare settings: in-patient, emergency and dementia care. You can read more about the winning services in our 2018 winners article.

"If you know of, or work in, similarly inspiring teams, please do nominate colleagues, or enter your own service for our 2019 Awards. Winners will be announced at the 2019 Excellence Network Conference in Manchester in May. Conference registrations are also open now.

Our new leadership team

"The Excellence Network awards highlighted the power of the multi-disciplinary team. In April 2018 we were able to reflect this in a new and exciting Excellence Network leadership structure as I was joined by the Excellence Network clinical leadership team.

"The team, made up of Patsy Cotton, Annette Hand, Alison Leake, Fiona Lindop, Richard Walker and myself, have been working hard looking at new approaches to prioritise issues for clinicians and people with Parkinson's.

"We've been investigating improvement options for medicines management, how to better support underserved groups, and how to support and better work with our allied health professional colleagues.

The 2017 UK Parkinson's Audit

"The 2017 UK Parkinson's Audit provided us with the largest ever dataset from 9,480 people on the quality of care provided to people with Parkinson's across the UK.

"The unprecedented level of participation in the audit speaks volumes about the commitment and dedication of so many of our colleagues across different disciplines to improving services for people with Parkinson's.

"The audit confirmed there are areas of good practice across the UK, and that people are working to 2017 NICE guideline standards, but there remains room for improvement.

"For example, 98% of patients attending elderly care and neurology services were reviewed by a specialist in the preceding 12 months. However, we still see a limited multi-disciplinary approach remaining in some areas, with 28% of elderly care and neurology services taking part in the audit being 'doctor alone' clinics. 

"Most importantly, people affected by Parkinson's have told us that services have improved since the 2015 Audit. There was a 16% rise in the overall service rating since 2015, reported by the Audit’s Patient Reported Experience Measure and the Parkinson's UK 2017 Your Life, Your Services survey.

"The quality gap between the highest and lowest rated services also narrowed – for those who like the figures, the gap reduction was 11.4%! This is incredibly positive given the challenges facing health services over the 2 years between the audits. 

"Hundreds of services who took part in the audit have developed local action plans based on their audit results. With support from the Excellence Network service improvement team, services are now implementing these plans across the UK.

"Registrations for the 2019 Audit will open in February, with data collection running from 1 May to 30 September 2019.

"The Audit results provide the evidence we need to inform and drive the improvements in care that our patients deserve, so I want to encourage you strongly to take part.

Excellence Network regional groups

"Throughout the year, meetings across the country have brought together colleagues from a variety of health and care disciplines, alongside people affected by Parkinson's, to discuss audit results, share examples of regional good practice, and consider other innovations in service provision.

"From Scotland, through Ireland and Wales, to South East England, I’ve been lucky enough to attend some of these meetings and see the passion right across the country that we all have for improving Parkinson's care.

"In 2019, we want to continue to build on that passion and make sure ideas are being shared regionally and nationally. We'll be making sure more information about regional work is available on the website, as well as searching for a new regional lead to join our Network in South West England. Please do contact the Excellence Network team if you want to know more or apply.

New specialist groups

"One of the most popular topics at regional Network meetings this year was the importance of exercise in Parkinson's management. This interest in exercise was partly led by members of our Excellence Network Exercise Hub, which has its first meeting in June. The meeting followed the development and launch of an Exercise Framework for health and exercise professionals in 2017.

"Capturing other health zeitgeists, I'm also delighted to say that 2019 will see the launch of an Excellence Network Mental Health group and support for a Parkinson's Specialist Pharmacy Network. Let the Excellence Network team know if you are interested in attending meetings for either group.

Free learning taken on board

Whilst many of you have expanded your knowledge by attending group meetings, formal learning has also been underway with over 12,000 of our health and care colleagues taking advantage of the Excellence Network's free learning opportunities.

In 2019, 3 new learning pathways were launched to help Parkinson's nurses, therapists and many other health and social care staff who aren't Parkinson's specialists, find the best training resources and professional development opportunities for their needs.

Please do keep using and sharing these free resources.

Conferences showcasing our work

"Our learning opportunities continued to catch the eyes of colleagues at conferences, including the Therapy Expo, Acute and General Medicine and the Pharmacy Show, where Excellence Network stands and expert speakers offered updates on Parkinson's care.

"Also presenting Excellence Network funded work at conferences this year was James Martin and colleagues, with the results of their quality improvement project for Parkinson's speech and language therapy at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

"The team presented results at BritModis and the MDS Congress in Hong Kong, showing that the project had increased referrals and shortened the time taken for people with Parkinson's to be seen by the SLT service from referral.  

"There are currently 16 active projects funded by Excellence Network service improvement grants, so we hope to share further positive results with you in 2019.  

Looking ahead to 2019

"With a huge amount of work behind us in 2018, I think as a Parkinson's community we can be justly proud of the progress made during difficult times for all services.

"We can build on that positivity and continue to drive change for better in 2019 – and we will do that together in teams and in groups, up and down and across the country, sharing and exchanging, as we know it's a model that's working well. Thank you all for your contribution."

Dr Donald Grosset is the Clinical Director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network.