A diabetes advocacy group is urging the HSE West to urgently fill a key specialist diabetes nursing post in the Galway-Roscommon health area.
Diabetes Action, comprising Diabetes Ireland, the Irish Diabetes Specialist Nurse Association and the Diabetes Section of the Irish Endocrine Society, says this position must be filled to establish integrated care locally, to reduce preventable Type 2 diabetes complications and improve patient health outcomes.
It is calling on the Minister for Health to immediately fill diabetes posts following the recent loss of the promised GP card to people with diabetes.
About 11,000 Galway people have diabetes, most have Type 2 (T2D ). People with this do not get the care they need and do not get it early enough, according to the organisation. Life-limiting complications associated with the condition are at a record high.
The advocacy group also claims local children with Type 1 diabetes are not getting access to insulin pump therapy due to the HSE not filling this specialist diabetes nursing post at University Hospital Galway despite funding being available since the beginning of this year.
Dr Sean Dinneen, a consultant endocrinologist at UHG, believes diabetes care in Ireland is at a crossroads.
“There is a critical need to fill these new posts and to appoint additional podiatrists to the HSE. Funding is actually available for the Galway/Roscommon integrated care post, the paediatric diabetes nurse specialist post, and dietetic posts at both Limerick Regional Hospital and UCH Galway yet these posts have remained unfilled. We had the first wave of (12 ) podiatry graduates from the NUI Galway School of Podiatry in 2012. Only two of them are in (part-time ) employment in the HSE.”
Dr Dinneen says integrated care would provide a bridge between GPs and hospitals providing further monitoring of people with T2D, preventing health complications and avoiding costly hospital treatment.
“Similarly, insulin pump therapy for many children with diabetes promises much lower levels of long term health complications associated with the condition over a patient’s lifetime.”
Anna Clarke of Diabetes Ireland, warns if these posts fall foul of the government recruitment embargo or if further significant delays are permitted, there will be a direct negative impact on diabetes care right around the country.
“We are seeking full implementation by the HSE of the integrated care and paediatric posts in the HSE West. Inertia and bureaucracy must not become barriers to providing more comprehensive care to the diabetes community.”
* It is estimated that 190,000 people in Ireland have diabetes and about 10 per cent of that number have Type 1 diabetes. It is estimated that there are currently 3,500 to 4,000 children, adolescents and young adults under the age of 19 years with Type 1 diabetes in Ireland.
In 2010 it was estimated that 135,000 adults (over 45 years ) had diabetes. By 2020 this number is expected to rise to more than 175,000. This represents a 30 per cent increase (an additional 40,000 adults ) in 10 years.