“A consultant rheumatology service for 11 hours a week at Mayo University Hospital is simply not adequate or acceptable” says Independent general election candidate Mulranny based GP Dr Jerry Cowley who insists that a full scale rheumatology unit needs to be located at Mayo University Hospital in light of the present demand by patients and the extensive waiting lists for patients to be seen at both Galway University Hospital or Manorhamilton.
Dr Cowley said "There are 26,000 people across Mayo with different forms of arthritis.?There are 1,400 patients waiting to be seen in Merlin Park Galway and 1,100 waiting to be seen in Manorhamilton. That's 18 to 24 months wait for urgent treatment.? I had been pushing the campaign for a Mayo rheumatology unit since before I was in the Dail and while I was an Independent TD. There was to be a Mayo consultant rheumatologist appointed after I left Dáil Éireann but it never happened because I was not there to keep the pressure on at Dail level” he said.
He went on to say, “Now there is a consultant rheumatologist appointed from the UK to the Manorhamilton rheumatology clinic who intends to spend 11 hours a week in Mayo University Hospital. This position is not expected to be taken up until the end of the summer. This is not at all acceptable to just have a visiting consultant who will fail to turn up regularly as is 'par for the course’ for similar clinical specialist satellite clinics located in Mayo University Hospital and far from the Galway University Hospital ‘centre-of –excellence."
Dr Cowley continued saying, "The home base will invariably have to be served in every contingency rather than service the outlying clinic which will be cancelled regularly and waiting time and lists will increase accordingly. This was the pattern with orthopaedic services in 1989 when I started the campaign for a Mayo orthopaedic unit. Having a Mayo Orthopaedic unit solved all of that. It is just not feasible for ill and older people to have to travel outside their own county for such services. Distances are so great it’s just too far. It's very painful having to walk across a room with arthritis, never mind spend up to six hours round trip cramped in a car coming to and from an appointment maybe lasting about 15 minutes to see a consultant maybe having waited for two years. The arthritic process dictates that people be seen promptly by a consultant rheumatologist. People need to see this doctor urgently but they have to wait 18 months to two years to see him in the first place. Serious damage can be done to joints in the meantime which can include children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis."
He concluded saying, "Time is of the essence here and any delay can result in someone having irreversible damage to their joints ending up in a wheelchair for life. There is no substitute for a Mayo Rheumatology Unit and the people of Mayo deserve no less. It is a long overdue development which needs to happen. I pledge to do all in my power to ensure it does. I need your strong support to ensure I get elected to see this project through to the end."