Just one third of the staff needed to manage patients with long Covid have been recruited to specialist clinics, Deputy Denis Naughten has said.
The HSE told the Roscommon-Galway TD that just 22.5 WTE posts have been filled out of 70 posts needed to operate 14 specialist long Covid centres across the country.
Clinics in Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick and Beaumont Hospitals have failed to fill any of the posts allocated by the HSE and just one of the St James Hospital clinics in Dublin has a full complement of staff.
Deputy Naughten said that it is clear that this issue is not getting the priority that it deserves.
“A research paper which I commissioned over the summer from the Oireachtas Library & Research Service clearly indicates it is not just cardiac and respiratory issues that long Covid patients are experiencing but many are facing neurological issues as well,” he said.
“This research is supported in correspondence to me from the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and the HSE on the need to recruit neurological consultants to treat people with long Covid.”
He said that despite the medical research, the HSE has only recruited one neurologist based at St James Hospital for long Covid patients across the country.
“Clearly the review of medical specialities across all 14 centres has culminated in the addition of just one full psychiatrist post,” said the local TD.
“Based on an analysis that I performed there are 336,451 adults nationally who are likely to be suffering from some of the 200 medical conditions associated with long Covid.
“If even a small proportion of the 336,451 adults with long Covid present at GP surgeries and are referred on for medical tests at our hospitals, it will significantly add to the already record-breaking 625,000 outstanding outpatient appointments and will no doubt contribute to the record numbers on trolleys in hospital this month.”