Twenty six thousand arthritis sufferers in County Mayo continue to be denied rheumatology services despite a HSE commitment in July to provide a consultant at Mayo University Hospital.
According to Independent MEP Marian Harkin this failure reflected the lack of urgency in the provision of services in the west and northwest across a range of health issues.
“A commitment has been made to provide a consultant who would travel from Manorhamilton hospital to Castlebar and this is long overdue response to the needs of Co Mayo’s arthritis sufferers,” she said.
“It is unacceptable that, at the beginning of October, a full year since interviews were held to appoint a consultant that the necessary contract has yet to be signed which would provide rheumatology service of 11 hours per week in Castlebar,” MEP Harkin added.
She asked why, when a verbal confirmation of the consultants role had been given, that the contract had not been implemented. “When signed, the arthritis sufferers, for whom the Mayo branch of Arthritis Ireland has campaigned for the past 20 years, would at last be able to avail of the promised rheumatology services in Castlebar and it is inexcusable that it cannot commence until the designated consultants contract is concluded,” Ms Harkin said.
“For the service in Castlebar to be effective it requires not just a consultant but a multi-disciplinary support team to tackle the 2,500 people currently suffering on a waiting list. Having regard to the success of early intervention in treating arthritis and the huge extra cost involved to the State where late diagnosis and lack of treatment leads to 30 per cent of people becoming disabled. The reality is that the sooner the patient is treated, the cost to the State is reduced.”
Marian Harkin called for the immediate conclusion of the contract for the consultant designated for Castlebar and provision of the necessary back up team to deliver long overdue services to the thousands in Co Mayo suffering from arthritis, and the many who would benefit so much from early diagnosis of arthritis.