A HOSPITAL which appointed a new Cystic Fibrosis (CF) consultant cannot care for any new patients because it doesn't have enough beds, the Irish Independent has learned.
The Cystic Fibrosis service at Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) is supposed to care for adults and children with CF on a 'shared care' basis with other specialist centres around the country.
However, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI), despite the appointment of a CF adult consultant to the hospital more than two years ago, the service has been unable to expand and take on new patients as the facilities required to treat them safely are not in place.
Adults with CF cannot be seen even as out-patients because of a lack of adequate consulting rooms.
As a result, the majority of adults with CF in the south east have to travel to specialist hospitals in Dublin or to Cork University Hospital, which are already stretched to capacity, even for routine check-ups.
This is because there are no en suite rooms for CF patients at the hospital, or a dedicated day ward, both of which are vital for adults with CF.
According to the chairman of the CFAI, Philip Watt, staffing levels across multiple disciplines in adult CF care in WRH are also far from adequate.
"It is ridiculous. You have a specialist consultant appointed to this hospital and yet the service cannot be expanded to cater for its adult CF population," he said.
"The fact that the majority of adult CF patients in the region have to travel to Dublin and Cork for routine check-ups is just adding to the stress already loaded on these patients.
"We also have concerns about the fact that the new unit for CF patients set for Dublin will now have 40pc fewer beds than has been recommended by medical experts following a statement released by Health Minister James Reilly (last) week," he added.
There are in the region of 80 adults with CF in the south eastern region and the hospital currently caters for 28 children with CF.
There is currently no designated psychologist, social worker or dedicated microbiology team member specific for CF care at WRH.
Work is due to be completed at the new unit at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin -- the national referral centre for adults with cystic fibrosis -- in early 2012.
It had been expected that the unit would have 34 dedicated inpatient rooms for CF sufferers.
However, Dr Reilly released a statement last week saying the unit would have only 20 inpatient beds and 10 outpatient beds.