Charity's concern over Parkinson's delays at NHS Grampian
People with the brain disease Parkinson's face longer waits to be seen by NHS Grampian than anywhere else in Scotland, a charity has said.
Parkinson's UK said figures for the area showed it was taking about 40 weeks for 95% of patients to get their first appointment.
The charity said nearly 1,300 of the 12,400 people in Scotland with the disease lived in Grampian.
NHS Grampian said a neurology review was under way.
Parkinson's causes toxic proteins to build up in the brain, which then kill nerves, particularly those linked with movement.
- Parkinson's disease is incurable
- It affects 128,000 people in the UK
- As well as damaging movement, it affects the senses, memory and mood
Parkinson's UK Scotland director Annie Macleod said: "This is the first time that we've shone such a searching spotlight on Parkinson's services in every part of Scotland.
"We recognise that people providing Parkinson's care are doing an incredible job, but we've been challenged by people with Parkinson's to discover whether their individual experiences are unique or part of a bigger and worrying picture.
"Across Scotland there should be at least 40 Parkinson's nurses, instead we have less than 30. Grampian has the equivalent of 3.5 nurses, almost one short of what it should have."
She said that delays in diagnosis were causing anxiety for patients and their families and that neurology services were routinely missing the Scottish government's 12-week target for new outpatient referrals in all but the smallest island health boards.
"These targets are typically missed by a large margin, and NHS Grampian is the worst performing board in Scotland. Last summer, people who needed to see a neurologist in NHS Grampian took up to 42 weeks to do so," she said.
'Aware of challenges'
Mike Powell from Aboyne, who has been living with Parkinson's for five years, said: "Despite the best efforts of the people in the NHS that we see working flat out in Grampian there's a real feeling amongst the Parkinson's community that we are all too easily overlooked in terms of resources and investment.
"Parkinson's isn't going away any time soon, not for me and the community and not for the NHS either."
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: "A review looking at every aspect of neurology and it's associated services is currently under way.
"We are aware of the challenges, particularly around workforce, that impact on the patients waiting longer than we'd like to be seen."