200 patients wait four years for Limerick diabetes clinic appointment 

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MORE than 200 patients have been waiting up to four years for a first outpatients appointment at the University of Limerick Hospitals Group diabetes clinic, while five people are waiting up to seven years.

A further 101 patients have waited between four and five years just to get to the clinic having been diagnosed with diabetes.

That’s according to information provided to Limerick City West councillor Dan McSweeney at the HSE’s Regional Health Forum West last week.

205 patients have waited between two and four years for an appointment while 28 are waiting between five and six years.

Altogether 573 adult patients are waiting to be given a first appointment, hospital group chief executive Colette Cowan said.

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She also revealed that a Consultant Endocrinologist with the group has been in contact with the DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) UK group to start the required training for staff for the group to become a DAFNE accredited centre.

Limerick Social Democrats Councillor Elisa O’Donovan had asked Limerick City and County Council to seek an estimated timeline for when University of Limerick Hospitals Group would become an accredited DAFNE centre and when the first DAFNE training will be provided to staff and to people with diabetes.

Specialist education for adults with Type 1 diabetes, known as DAFNE, is the cornerstone of good diabetes management. The DAFNE programme was piloted at six sites in Ireland in 2006 and in 2021, expanded to 12 diabetes centres with ULHG being the only group excluded from the expansion.

There are 15,591 people in Limerick with diabetes and 37,800 in the Mid West.

Currently, many of the HSE’s hospitals groups have two or more DAFNE centres, leaving the UL Hospitals Group the only one without any centre.

According to the Mid West Diabetes Advocacy Group, the Hospitals Group said in 2019 that the barrier to offering the DAFNE programme to people with diabetes was the lack of specialist staff.

Since December 2020, there have been 12 posts approved for the Outpatient Adult Diabetes Clinic in the UL Hospitals Group and as of January 2022, there are two Consultant Endocrinologists, three dietitians, and six Clinical Nurse Specialists in place, with three staff nurses and two more endocrinologists due to take up posts shortly.

People with Type 1 diabetes must inject the appropriate amount of insulin every time they eat to maintain glucose levels in a healthy range. DAFNE teaches how to adjust the insulin doses to better match individual needs.