Children with diabetes forced to travel to Limerick for treatment

Local children with Type 1 diabetes areas are forced to travel to Limerick for treatment because a paediatric diabetes consultant post has remained unfilled at University Hospital Galway for the past two years.

The children are under 12 and are from Galway, Roscommon and the surrounding areas.

They are being treated “shamefully”, according to Roscommon/Galway Fianna Fail TD Eugene Murphy.

He has called on the Minister for Health to fill the post as a matter of urgency and has highlighted the need for further positions to be made available this year to fully implement the Paediatric Diabetes Model of Care published in December 2015.

He stated the then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, launched the Model of Care for Children and Young People with Type 1 Diabetes back in 2015 amid much fanfare.

“But this model is failing due to lack of commitment and urgency by the Department of Health and the HSE. The Model of Care document essentially set out a blueprint for the development of a quality paediatric Type 1 diabetes service that was to put children and their families at the centre of their care plan. It included the setting up of Integrated Practice Units, on a regional basis, with a centre of excellence supporting outreach centres and identified the staffing required to deliver high quality care and the current gap analysis.

“However we have a disgraceful and totally unacceptable situation whereby a paediatric diabetes consultant post, for which funding has been made available, has remained unfilled at UHG for the past two years. This has resulted in children under the age of 12 with Type I diabetes from Galway, Roscommon and surrounding areas having to travel to Limerick for treatment. Diabetes is a complex, chronic illness requiring continuous medical care,” said Deputy Murphy.

The Fianna Fáil TD recently tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, asking how long it will take to appoint a paediatric diabetes consultant at UHG; the reason for the delay and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In reply, the Minister outlined that during 2015 a consultant vacancy arose in the paediatric diabetes service at UHG.

“The Saolta Healthcare Group prioritised the filling of this specialist post and a candidate was selected in late 2015. However delays arose, and in February 2017 the hospital was advised that the candidate was no longer in a position to take up the post.”

In light of the importance of this post it has been re-advertised by the Public Appointments Service as a priority and applications have now been received.

“The HSE is actively engaging with the Public Appointments Service in order to fill this critical post as soon as possible. In the interim, the Saolta Healthcare Group has been making every effort to provide appropriate diabetes care services to paediatric patients. Children under the age of 12 years are currently referred to University Hospital Limerick for diabetes treatment while patients aged 12 years and over are commenced on insulin pump therapy under the guidance of a consultant endocrinologist at UHG,” read the Minister’s response.

Deputy Murphy is calling on Minister Harris to urgently recruit a permanent paediatric diabetes consultant so the hospital can provide comprehensive services.

“That would mean that children do not have to travel to hospitals outside the hospital group. We need equity and local access and support for all children with Type 1 diabetes, regardless of where they live.”

UHG serves as a regional centre for the delivery of diabetes, endocrine and related services in the West of Ireland. This clinical care is delivered in close collaboration with related education and research programmes in the National University of Ireland Galway.

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