More than 22,000 people are now on a waiting list to see a neurologist, an increase of 40pc over the past five years, according to a new report from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.
The (NAI), a national umbrella group for organisations representing people with neurological conditions like dementia and Parkinson’s disease, said the demand for a first-time appointment to see a neurologist has spiralled since 2015 with 22,649 people now waiting for an appointment compared to 13,529 in 2015.
With a population that will age exponentially over the next decade on top of around 800,000 people in Ireland currently living with a neurological condition, it is urging the Government to act now to address what is says are “critical gaps in multidisciplinary staffing in neurology services”.
According to its latest report ‘Neurology Resourcing in Ireland, Five Years On’ published today, all 12 neurology centres across the country are all understaffed, with less than half (44pc) of the number of clinical nurse specialists needed.
It is ultimately the patients and their families who will suffer, according to NAI executive director Magdalen Rogers.
“There are 800,000 people living in Ireland with a neurological condition. The lack of commitment to address serious gaps in staffing continues to impact significantly on outcomes for neurology patients.
“For example, we know that expanding and developing the role of clinical nurse specialists is the future of neurology services in Ireland. They streamline patient care and play a vital part in educating patients and families about specific neurological disorders. In many cases, they prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. We have 44pc of what is required.”
The report also found that rehabilitation services for neurology patients have deteriorated further since 2015.