Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour MP for Torfaen, will lead a debate on awareness of young-onset Parkinson’s disease in the House of Commons. Mr Thomas-Symonds has secured an Adjournment Debate on Monday 6th March 2017, which is 200 years after Dr James Parkinson penned his essay on The Shaking Palsy.

There are an estimated 127,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK. By 2020, it is expected that the number of people with Parkinson’s will rise to 162,000. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, it can affect every aspect of daily life. As well as tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement, issues such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep problems and depression can have a major impact on the lives of people affected.

Mr Thomas-Symonds praised the work of Parkinson’s UK, highlighting in particular the work the charity has done in campaigning on the impact of UK government social security reforms on those with Parkinson’s disease. Supporting young-onset Parkinson’s sufferers in work is vital. In the 2015 General Election campaign, Mr Thomas-Symonds, promised to do what he could to raise awareness if he was elected.

Hayley Huxley, a constituent of Mr Thomas-Symonds’, has spoken to him in recent months about the particular challenges faced by those who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s at a young age. Hayley is a 30-year-old mother of two who was diagnosed five years ago aged 25.

Mr Thomas-Symonds said:

“Hayley is one of several thousand people in the UK trying to manage this progressive chronic condition with numerous challenges and symptoms, alongside the demands of life – climbing the career ladder, bringing up a young family and caring for elderly relatives. The stress and stigma that often accompany the condition exacerbate these symptoms and make life harder still.

“I am determined to champion the needs of all those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, at whatever age, but, at the same time, it is great to have the opportunity to focus on the particular needs of young-onset Parkinson’s sufferers in a Parliamentary debate. It is absolutely vital that we, as a society, are sensitive to their particular needs, and work to ensure that they receive the best possible, personalized, care from clinicians.”

Gaynor Edwards, co-founder of Spotlight YOPD, said:

“We are delighted that Nick has established this on the political agenda. We are also surprised at the speed that the debate has come about, within two months of our first meeting with him. We made contact via Facebook. I think there’s a lovely synergy that we have a young MP fighting our corner, using social media, as the YOPD community does. Of course 200 years down the line, it’s a refreshing change from the painfully slow pace we are used to with Parkinson’s issues.”

Natasha Burgess, Parliamentary Adviser at Parkinson’s UK said;

“It’s fantastic that all those with young-onset Parkinson’s will be recognised by this debate, especially as  we know that those who develop Parkinson’s earlier in life are often exposed to a unique set of issues and pressures.

“Nick has been a long time and stalwart supporter of our work in Parliament and has spoken many times on issues relating to early-onset Parkinson’s, in particular the need for the welfare system to ensure that people of working age with the condition are properly supported, whether or not they can work. We’re very excited to continue our work with Nick and MPs across all Parties to make sure that the needs of people with young-onset Parkinson’s are addressed.”


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