Call for action on neurology understaffing in Limerick

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UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick urgently needs to recruit staff for its neurology services if they are to give patients the service they deserve.

That’s according to Sinn Féin Senator, Paul Gavan who has made a direct call to the government to recruit eight urgently needed neurology nurse specialists for the hospital.

Addressing Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler, during a Seanad debate on Brain Health and Dementia, Senator Gavan highlighted that the hospital is severely understaffed in this specialist field.

“UHL is the Mid West regional centre for neurology, but it has a severe shortage of neurology nurse specialists. Based on the catchment area, the national and international guidelines recommend that there should be 11 neurology nurse specialists, but there are currently only three,” he said.

“This is resulting in long and often agonising delays for patients trying to access appointments, diagnosis and care. These appalling delays can in turn impact patients’ health and result in a further deterioration of health.”

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Senator Gavan called on the Minister to take immediate action to approve additional hires and ensure a rapid improvement in patient waiting times declaring: “I fully support the Neurological Alliance of Ireland’s ‘Patients Deserve Better’ campaign for 100 extra neurology nurse specialists across Ireland, which includes eight extra nurses for University Hospital Limerick.”

In response to Senator Gavan’s remarks, a spokesperson for UHL said: “The deficits in UL Hospitals Group’s Neurology Service are acknowledged, and addressing any deficits is a priority for the Group.

“The service’s two specialist nurses in neurology are supported by a total of nine nursing staff, providing services in Parkinson’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and in the stroke service. These nurses are a mix of Clinical Nurse Specialists, Clinical Nurse Managers and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

“In addition, the two consultant posts that the Group received approval for in 2021 were filled earlier this year, one permanently and one temporarily. We will be re-advertising the second post shortly, with a view to filling it permanently.

“Our neurology service works hand in glove with the designated Stroke/Neurology ward in University Hospital Limerick, where all staff are trained to care for neurology patients in a multidisciplinary approach that also incorporates Allied Health Professionals (physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy).”