Four vital consultant positions in the health service have not been advertised even though funding has been approved, the Oireachtas Committee on Health has heard.

The Neurological Alliance of Ireland said that two neurologists in Galway are servicing the entire western seaboard, despite funding having been approved for positions in Sligo and Limerick.

The posts, which were allocated funding in last year's budget, are awaiting approval from the Health Service Executive.

Posts in Waterford and at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin have also yet to be filled.

Dr Orla Hardiman of the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience said that an exact breakdown of the necessary funding has been known since July but, for an unknown reason, the HSE has yet to sanction the advertisement of the posts.

Dr Hardiman told the committee that there are no shortage of applicants for posts as consultant neurologists when they are advertised, with up to eight or nine applicants each time.

She also said that people with neurological conditions, which include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease, represent a high percentage of patients presenting themselves at Accident and Emergency Departments.

Over 400,000 people in Ireland, not including stroke patients, suffer from neurological conditions.