Kids waiting two years to see arthritis doctors
Almost 450 children are waiting for specialist appointments that could provide crucial early diagnosis of arthritis.
New research by Arthritis Ireland shows that arthritis is the biggest cause of childhood disability in Ireland, with 1,200 children affected nationwide.
However, Ireland has one of the lowest numbers of consultant paediatric rheumatologists in Europe to deal with the growing number of sufferers.
The two-year waiting list for diagnosis of children has also raised concerns, with 447 children currently waiting to be seen by specialist doctors.
Best practice guidelines recommend that children be seen within six weeks of the onset of symptoms.
In a survey by Arthritis Ireland, 32pc of parents revealed they have been waiting over six months for a rheumatology appointment, while 16pc have been waiting over two years.
Arthritis Ireland CEO John Church called for more resources to be made available to tackle childhood arthritis. He said: "Arthritis is often seen as an 'old person's disease' with 'a few aches and pains'. However, it is a chronic disease impacting on children and young people in Ireland.
"Childhood arthritis needs to be given the respect and resources it deserves. That is why we have been working to gain approval and raise funds for an appropriately staffed paediatric clinic."