*Cllr Mary Howard. Photograph: Gary Collins
Politicians in Clare have hit out at “unacceptable staff shortages” at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) when it comes to diabetic services.
At a recent meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) tabled a motion calling on Minister for Health, Simon Harris “to address the staffing shortages in University of Limerick Hospital diabetes services urgently and to confirm that the HSE has included Diabetes Dietetic posts in the 2020 estimates and will be funded”.
“There is unacceptable staff shortages for UHL, it is the only model four hospital not providing diabetic treatment. There is no dedicated dietician for diabetics which is vitally important to help them understand diet and nutrition,” Cllr Howard flagged and added that psychological support was also absent.
According to the Ennis representative, UHL “has the lowest number of specialist nursing staff” for treating diabetics, Howard claimed there was approximately 4.4 posts when the recommended amount is seven. “We really need to look at how we treat diabetics in the Mid West”.
“As a diabetic, I can confirm those figures,” Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) stated as he seconded the motion. “When I was first diagnosed, there was supports but it’s shocking to see the so called centre of excellence has no staff. Young people being diagnosed are not getting proper advice,” the Mayor of Ennis stated.
Cllr Roisin Garvey (GP) committed to bringing the matter up at the next meeting of the HSE Regional Forum.
In a statement to The Clare Echo, Independent TD Dr. Michael Harty outlined that he has learned a new endocrinologist has been offered a consultant’s position at UHL but warned that the offer won’t be taken up until mid 2020. “I also understand there was only one applicant for the job. This is another frightening example of the recruitment problem in our hospitals”.
He felt Ireland “is suffering from a tsunami in diabetes”. “It is truly shocking that University Hospital Limerick has only one consultant endocrinologist working with adult diabetic patients and there is no specialist dietitian for adults with Type 1 Diabetes.
“We simply don’t know if the second consultant endocrinologist will take up the position in mid-2020. Anything could happen between this and then. The rise in the number of diabetes suffers is multifactorial but lifestyle and an ageing population are major contributors. The proportion of the population over 65 remained constant for many years until 2010, when it started to rise sharply. By the year 2040, it is estimated over-65s will account for one-quarter of the population. Our health services are ill-prepared to cope and even worse, Government spokespersons are blasé in their response to the impending disaster,” Harty added.