Blog: Getting off to a great start - the inaugural Parkinson’s Disease Specialist Pharmacy Network Conference 10 October, 2019

Around 50  Pharmacists and healthcare professionals working with people with Parkinson’s attended the Parkinson’s Disease Specialist Pharmacy Network (PDSPN) inaugural conference on 10 October in Birmingham.

Below, Viv Horton, Advanced Clinical Pharmacist at South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, and member of the PDSPN shares an overview and highlights of the day.

Wow, what an amazing day! It was a privilege to be involved, there was a definite buzz to the atmosphere and I enjoyed the opportunities to network and develop relationships with colleagues from around the UK.

The idea for this network came from Dr Janine Barnes, MBE and Chair of the PDSPN. Janine has been working closely with Parkinson’s UK and the Parkinson’s Excellence Network for many years and identified a training need from pharmacy teams who were interested in further developing their skills in caring for people with Parkinson’s.

A network to bring together all sectors of the pharmacy profession

The day was opened by Seema Buckley, who welcomed attendees and thanked them for coming. We were then honoured to hear from Daiga Heisters in her final speaking appointment for Parkinson’s UK, who emphasised the important role that pharmacy teams play in supporting people with Parkinson’s.

Daiga highlighted the training available via Parkinson’s UK’s website and the important work of the Parkinson’s Excellence Network. She expressed her excitement that there was now a network to bring together all sectors of the pharmacy team and explained to delegates how they can make the best use of Basecamp, the online collaboration platform used by the Excellence Network to communicate with the PDSPN and other regional groups.

Janine Barnes led the session on managing Parkinson’s. As a member of the current NICE guideline committee for Parkinson’s disease, she was able to clearly explain the evidence behind the current recommendations. Pharmacy teams have a crucial contribution to ensure that people with Parkinson’s get their medication on time. As medicines experts, pharmacy teams are ideally placed to clinically review any newly prescribed medication to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for the individual.

Perspective of an expert by experience

We were so fortunate to hear from expert patient, Jonny Acheson, who talked us through his experience of Parkinson’s assisted by his unique sketches. He described how important exercise is in managing his Parkinson’s. He also talked us through several iterations of his medication regimes, and his personal priorities, highlighting that every person with Parkinson’s is different. He also appreciated frank discussions about potential side effects from medication and how ongoing accountability has helped to minimise these.

Jonny spoke of the importance of Team Parkinson's. If anyone wants to find out more and join Team Parkinson’s, visit:, and you will receive your Team Parkinson’s blue brain badge included in the welcome pack.

I was next up on the programme, presenting on the current non oral treatment options available for Parkinson’s. I talked through the individual situations in which these treatments might be useful and considerations for the pharmacy team. Many thanks to the patients who gave me their consent to have their videos shown to demonstrate their response to treatment.

An afternoon of "upping our game"

The afternoon session began with an opening address from Sue Lord and was followed by Stephanie Bancroft, who explained her reasoning for wanting to learn more about Parkinson’s and how this then spurred her on to educate others. She explained how she went on to design the Parkinson’s Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) and the process involved in getting these trialled and rolled out. Stephanie challenged those of us working in community to get involved with these and moving forward these will be conducted by pharmacists working in Primary Care - another reason to get involved with the PDSPN.

Shelley Jones got us thinking about the pathology of Parkinson’s, specifically cutting edge research relating to Parkinson’s which may start in the gut and how this might provide novel treatment strategies.  Shelly also described targeting α synuclein and possible monoclonal antibodies. She wondered if we needed to ‘up our game’ in terms of categorising Parkinson’s for individuals in order to best target new treatment approaches. Certainly these potential new treatment options will need to be supported by well-resourced pharmacy teams.

Gwen Klepping rounded off the day by giving a very practical overview of palliative care in Parkinson’s. She challenged us to be advocates for our patients during this important time and clearly described the change of priorities which may become evident and principles of prescribing and de-prescribing. Gwen also discussed advance care planning and hydration.

Thanks for the support

We are very grateful to all eight Pharma companies who supported the event and attended on the day to chat to delegates and showcase their products. We would also like to say a big thank you to the entire PDSPN committee for all their help leading up to and during the event and their ongoing dedication and to all the delegates for making this such a successful day. We hope to see many of you at our next conference.

Get in touch with PDSPN

If you would like to find out more about the PDSPN and join the Network's basecamp group, email [email protected].

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