The Donegal Branch of Diabetes Ireland along with Diabetes Ireland senior management have received several commitments from Minister for Health, Simon Harris after a productive meeting yesterday.
The group’s representatives Paul Gillespie and Gerard Gallagher were supported by Dr Anna Clarke and Professor Hilary Hoey of Diabetes Ireland and had the backing of all Donegal Political representatives at Government buildings as they put forward their case for increased resources for Type 1 diabetes care in Letterkenny University Hospital.
(Featured image: L-R, Paul Gillespie DDA, Dr Anna Clarke, Diabetes Ireland, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Dr Hilary Hoey, Diabetes Ireland, and Gerard Gallagher, DDA.
Two main points highlighted by the association were the inadequate services for both adults and children with Type 1 diabetes.
Minister Harris gave confirmation that a Centre of Excellence for Diabetes would be established in the North West.
Paul Gillespie of the Donegal Diabetes Association told Donegal Daily that the group highlighted to Minister Harris that a suitable facility already exists at LUH to consider developing a Shared Centre of Excellence in LUH with Sligo
“For Paediatrics, we discussed the fact that there was no Centre of Excellence anywhere north of the Dublin/Limerick line. Minister Harris gave a commitment that there are going to be two new Centres of Excellence – one in Galway in and one in the North West.
“They are going to look at the feasibility of having a shared centre between Letterkenny and Sligo. We highlighted that in the catchment area there are more people with diabetes attending LUH.
“The Gatehouse is a building at the entrance to the old casualty gate, which was completely repurposed for diabetes care. We argued that would be a good starting point for a Centre of Excellence in Letterkenny,” Mr Gillespie said.
An issue facing Donegal’s youngest children with diabetes is the lack of a consultant paediatrician with a special interest in paediatric diabetes in Sligo after the post became vacant in April. As a result, insulin pump therapy is not available to newly presenting children under the age of five with diabetes. We welcome the announcement that the continuation of monthly pump therapy into Letterkenny had been secured ”
“We welcome the announcement that the continuation of monthly pump therapy into Letterkenny had been secured ”
“There are 18 children with Type 1 diabetes that should have started pump therapy, but that wasn’t available.
“We got the commitment that an endocrinologist was coming to the north west to start the pump therapy for those children in both Sligo and Letterkenny,” Mr Gillespie said.
The group were assured that a paediatrician with a special interest in paediatric diabetes would be reappointed as soon as possible, although it is possible it may not be until the end of the year until this happens.
Mr Gillespie said two very concerning points were put before Minister Harris regarding adult diabetes care.
Over 7,000 people in County Donegal have been diagnosed as having diabetes, of whom 700+ have type 1 diabetes.
“There is an unacceptably long waiting list for a follow-up appointment for adults that is more than 24 months. According to HSE guidelines it should be four months.
“The Minister was shocked and amazed the numbers were so bad. Again, he has committed to review this as much as they can,” Mr Gillespie said.
Adult diabetes services at Letterkenny are provided by a consultant endocrinologist, supported by a locum consultant general physician.
Mr Gillespie said “this was a very welcome step, but the appointment of a second consultant endocrinologist would have only minor improvements to clear the current waiting list, as support staff are also needed”.
“Minister Harris said that 120 ANP (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) posts has been sanctioned nationwide so they could ensure at least one ANP in adult diabetes could be developed in LUH to specialise on adult care and support the endocrinologists”
“They are now hoping to make the second endocrinologist a full-time position, but it would be almost a year before that position is filled,” Mr Gillespie said.
The impact of this under-resourcing on young adults, in particular, was discussed yesterday.
“We discussed the transition time for teenagers – like my daughter who just turned 18. Up to this, she was seen by a consultant paediatrician – now it’s going to be 24 months. This is detrimental to the health of children involved looking into adult services.”
“We welcomed the news that an ANP specialist in diabetes pump therapy was to be added to paediatric care in LUH and that this ANP could work into the transition clinic until the adult ANP is developed ”
Mr Gillespie welcomed the upcoming action to be taken to improve paediatric services in LUH, but said today’s meeting would have minimal improvement of the unacceptable waiting lists for adult appointments.
“We are delighted that the Minister has listened to our points and that he has planned to take speedy action ahead of another meeting in September,” Mr Gillespie said.Tags: