Increasing the number of nurse specialists in neurology will reduce waiting lists, free up hospital resources and deliver real improvements for neurology patients.
That is the view of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), which today launched a new campaign calling for investment to tackle the serious shortage of nurse specialists in neurology in Galway.
Based on local and international recommendations, Galway University Hospital needs 13 nurse specialists in neurology.
The hospital has just four; a shortfall of 9 nurse specialists caring for people in Galway and surrounding counties.
Nationally, there is a shortage of over 100 nurse specialists in neurology in the Irish healthcare system.
Speaking about the need to address critical gaps in staffing, NAI Executive Director Magdalen Rogers said that there are 800,000 people living in Ireland with a neurological condition, and that they have been historically underserved by the health system.
“We know that 24,000 people are waiting for a neurology outpatient appointment, with 8,601 waiting more than 18 months resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment. Neurology patients deserve better,” said Magdalen Rodgers.
“Investing in more nurse specialists in neurology is a cost-efficient way of freeing up capacity of neurology consultants, reducing waiting times and ensuring that patients in Galway and across the country have access to the specialist support they need to manage their conditions.”
At the launch, Robert Joyce from Clifden, a patient representative living with multiple sclerosis, shared his experience of living with a long-term neurological condition.
He said anyone at any age can be diagnosed with a neurological condition and that the process of receiving a diagnosis can be very daunting.
“Nurse specialists in neurology can help offer support and reassurance to those who have a diagnosis or are waiting on one. There are only four nurse specialists in Galway, and we need 13,” he said.
“That needs to change and it’s up to us – the patients, our families, and the organisations that support us – to make our voices heard by contacting our TDs. Patients deserve better!”
Dr Michael Hennessy, Consultant Neurologist at Bon Secours Hospital Galway also spoke at the launch.