Intended for healthcare professionals


Who should look after people with Parkinson's disease?

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 09 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:62
  1. Rajendra Kale, assistant editor BMJ (,
  2. Matthew Menken, chair, World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Medical Education (
  1. 54 Rollingmead Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA

    Multidisciplinary teams are needed to address the needs of patients

    With the support of the World Health Organization and the blessing of the Pope, the 1997 charter for people with Parkinson's disease declared that patients have the right to consult a doctor with a special interest in Parkinson's disease (box).1 This demand was reinforced at the launch of the global declaration on Parkinson's disease in Mumbai, India, last month at a symposium of a working group originally formed by WHO. Yet where can this reasonable demand be met at present? Not in India, and perhaps not in most other places in the world—developing or developed. A doctor with a special interest usually means a neurologist (but it could be a geriatrician or a general practitioner), and given the shortage of neurologists in most countries including the United Kingdom this demand is unlikely to be met till the shortage is addressed.2 w1 w2 Moreover, neurologists on their own are perhaps not suited to look after people with Parkinson's disease, and these patients need to be looked after by multidisciplinary teams, keeping in mind the needs of patients as identified by patients and doctors. This charter could easily be applicable to other chronic neurological disorders too.

    Although the number of incident cases of Parkinson's disease is relatively small (20 per 100 000 per year) the prevalence of the disorder …

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