A SUTTON-in-Craven man is highlighting the importance of people with Parkinson’s taking their medication on time.

David Riley plans to lobby hospitals and pharmacies to encourage them to get medication speedily to patients.

David has previously campaigned to raise awareness of Parkinson’s but has stepped up his efforts in the light of Covid-19.

In recent weeks he has regularly visited medical centres, doctors’ surgeries and care homes throughout Craven, with support from Airedale Hospital’s specialist Parkinson’s nurse Margaret Ormerod and Louise Smith from the Skipton and District branch of Parkinson’s UK.

During the visits the trio provide a wide range of information and support about Parkinson’s.

Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s 15 years ago, 75-year old David only retired in 2018 from the Czajka Care Group where he had worked since 1975.

Originally joining the firm’s Currergate Nursing Home in Steeton, he became property maintenance manager then worked in health and safety compliance across Czajka’s five Yorkshire care homes.

Czajka is now sponsoring David’s efforts by providing banners and branded material to help promote the importance of taking medication on time.

David has recently completed a maximum six-year term as chairman of the Skipton and District branch of Parkinson’s UK and has stepped down to become vice-chairman.

David said: “For me, dealing with Parkinson’s has always been about staying busy and keeping my mind occupied.

“My work with Parkinson’s UK has helped with this, but as an organisation we still have a long way to go in educating people.

“Our initial workshops in medical centres and care homes were well-received before lockdown started.

“I’m now also speaking to several pharmacy chains, ranging from national chain Lloyds through to independents like Sutton Pharmacy, about providing information leaflets to people with Parkinson’s.

“One of the key things these will promote is the importance of always taking medication when it’s due.

“Medication can significantly improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s but taking it even slightly late can lead to major complications and causes lots of people unnecessary suffering.

“This is particularly important with coronavirus circulating, because people really need to look after themselves at the moment.

“It’s a simple thing to get right, but it’s so often overlooked.

“The NHS is doing a marvellous job during the Covid-19 pandemic and working hard to beat it, which we’re all very grateful for, but they also have lots of unsung heroes who support those with Parkinson’s.

“The team at Airedale Hospital have been fantastic since I was diagnosed in 2005.”

Konrad Czajka, managing director of Czajka Care Group, said the company was “too aware” of the perils of Parkinson’s, because it was a condition that affected a number of residents of the company’s homes.

He added: “The way that David deals with the disease is inspirational.

“He never lets it get in his way and we were fortunate to have him on our team for so many years.

“Now he’s retired, it’s no surprise that he’s still busy helping other people as they embark on a journey that he’s very familiar with, so we’re delighted to be able to aid him with his efforts and pass on his advice.”

Margaret Ormerod, Airedale Hospital’s specialist Parkinson’s nurse, said: “Being diagnosed with a neurological condition is an upsetting and confusing time, but there is lots of support available.

“We work closely with Parkinson’s sufferers to establish what care is required, ranging from speech therapy to dietary advice, and work out how individuals can best manage the condition, as well as monitoring this moving forward.

“As a team we also continually work on increasing awareness of Parkinson’s by educating and training fellow professionals.”

Louise Smith, Parkinson’s UK’s Local Advisor in Craven and the Yorkshire Dales, said Parkinson’s was the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, but had no cure.

She added: “The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK is about 145,000, but more than 1 million people in the UK are affected, either by living with Parkinson’s, or as a friend, colleague, or family member of someone who is.

“For most people, being told they have Parkinson’s is a bewildering experience and there’s usually very little support offered in the immediate aftermath, but that’s where Parkinson’s UK and its local branches make a difference, by offering advice, help, guidance and emotional support.”

Anyone wanting further information about David, or the Skipton and District branch of Parkinson’s UK and its regular meetings, which will resume once lockdown restrictions are lifted, can call 07518 185481 or the national helpline on 0808 800 0303, or visit parkinsons.org.uk.