The study, “Parkinson’s Disease Hospitalisation in England” examined admissions by patients with this debilitating brain condition and compared them to those for all other causes over a four-year period.
The primary aim of the report was to highlight the criticality for Parkinson’s patients in receiving the right treatment at the right time, saving lives and helping to give them “their life back” by relieving symptoms. The secondary aim was to ‘red flag’ the increasingly high economic burden to the NHS caused by expensive and potentially preventable emergency admissions.
The report found that Parkinson’s sufferers are more likely to be admitted as an emergency admission than for elective reasons (72% v. 28% respectively). Emergency admissions for people with Parkinson’s costs the NHS nearly £200m a year - £3,338 per patient. This compares to £1,417 for a planned non-emergency hospital stay.
The main reasons for emergency admissions among Parkinson’s patients are pneumonia (13.5%); physical deterioration (9.4%); urinary tract infection (9.2%) and hip fractures (4.3%). Parkinson’s patients are up to twice as likely (1.5 to 2.6 times) to be admitted for these conditions compared to the average patient.
Parkinson’s patients were almost twice as likely to stay in hospital for more than 3 months and almost 2.5 times more likely to die in hospital.
The lead author, neurologist Professor Carl Clarke, of the University of Birmingham and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, warned of a worsening situation on the horizon as the ageing population will inevitably result in an increase in Parkinson’s sufferers.
He said: “With the ageing population in developed countries, the number of people affected by Parkinson’s will rise with the inevitable dramatic increase in healthcare costs of hospitalisation. A greater understanding is required about the whole process of hospitalisation in Parkinson’s patients including why they are admitted, what happens during admission, and what happens on discharge.
“The NHS spends nearly £200 million per year on emergency admissions in Parkinson’s patients. The main reasons for admission are pneumonia, motor decline, urinary tract infections and hip fractures which occur more frequently in Parkinson’s patients than in a control group. Parkinson’s patients have longer hospital stays and are almost 2.5 times more likely to die.”
Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson’s UK said: “This report shows there can be disastrous consequences when people with Parkinson’s are admitted to hospital. Poor, underdeveloped Parkinson’s services mean people with the condition are being admitted as an emergency into hospital at alarmingly high rates, staying longer than they should – and all too often leaving in far worse health than they went in, or never going home at all. However we know that with proper support at an early stage, many of these admissions could be avoided.”