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Neurology services understaffed
14 Feb 2016 15:03
The country's neurology services are critically understaffed, with long waiting times and little or no access to post-treatment rehab, according to a new HSE-backed report.
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The report cited "unacceptable" waiting lists of up to a year or more in some cases for initial diagnostic MRI brain scans, impacting service delivery to the 700,000 people here who are estimated to suffer from one or more neurological conditions.
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None of the 11 neurology centres surveyed for the report had MRI access for routine referrals in under two months, while in seven of the 11 centres, access to brain scans took a year or longer.
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Delays in MRI scans are linked to delayed diagnosis and treatment, posing significant patient risks.
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And the report found a "critical lack" of post-treatment neuro-rehabilitation services in the community, meaning neurology patients who did manage to get initial diagnosis and treatment, were taking up hospital beds when they should be treated in their own community.
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The report was carried out by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), the umbrella body for over 30 neurological charities, in collaboration with the HSE's National Neurology Programme. The report's findings are expected to be released in the coming days.
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The clinical lead for the National Neurology Programme, professor Tim Lynch, told RTÉ’s This Week that the report highlighted the existence of geographic "black holes" where the number of consultant neurologists were far below acceptable levels across large areas of the country.
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