Findings from the first published audit of neurology services in Ireland, launched on Tuesday 15th February 2016, point to widespread deficits in neurology services across the country. The audit, based on reports from each of the eleven neurology centres nationwide was carried out in 2015 as part of a joint collaboration between the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) and the Neurology Clinical Programme. The findings reveal stark deficits in staffing numbers with no dedicated multidisciplinary teams in a number of regional centres and every centre affected by gaps in key disciplines. Ratios for the recommended number of neurologists per head of population (1:70,000) are exceeded within each hospital group with the Mid West coming out worst with a ratio of 1:200,000.
Lack of dedicated beds is another critical issue, with only six of the eleven centres having dedicated beds and even these are under constant pressure from other departments. As a result, patients with treatable conditions such as multiple sclerosis often wait for a bed and treatment.
Waiting times for routine MRI scanning exceed twelve months in seven of the eleven centres, often delaying diagnosis and treatment. Ten of the eleven neurology centres reported very limited or no access to community neurorehabilitation services which are crucial for recovery and prevention of disability. The lack of neurorehabilitation services places an unsustainable burden on neurology services which are unable to discharge patients, or are forced to readmit patients for therapy services which should be available in the community.
Speaking today, Professor Lynch, Clinical Lead with the Neurology Clinical Programme and Director of the Dublin Neurological Institute highlighted the impact of this continued underinvestment in neurology services on the year on year crisis in our Accident & Emergency departments “One in five admissions from A &E is for a neurological condition, we have clear evidence that if more of these patients were under the care of a consultant neurologist we would prevent the need for unnecessary admissions and vastly improve the standard of care for patients.
Magdalen Rogers, Development Manager with the Neurological Alliance of Ireland said “These findings mean we now have clear evidence for what clinicians and people with neurological conditions have been telling us for years, that neurology services are struggling, that there is a lottery of care depending on where you live and that we are failing to provide the level and type of care needed for 800,000 Irish people with neurological conditions that is taken for granted in other European countries.
The NAI are calling on all political parties to make neurology and neurorehabilitation services a key priority in their upcoming election pledgesDownload NAI Neurolgy Report