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Sunday 16 June 2019

Neurological patients waiting four years for specialist

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

MORE than 1,000 patients with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) are waiting over four years to see a specialist.

The figures from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), an umbrella group of support organisations, also showed that 5,580 adult and child patients with conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's, MS and severe migraine are in the queue for a year to see a neurologist. And 989 out of another total of 2,700 patients who need surgery are on lists for more than six months, with some waiting more than three years.

Chairman Chris Macey said: "When you combine these waiting lists with the huge deficits that exist in neurorehabilitation services ... what you are left with is suffering on a monumental scale – much of it avoidable."

He said urgent action is needed to prioritise the development of better services for people with neurological conditions. Neurologist Professor Orla Hardiman pointed out: "We don't need more money, we just need to be cleverer about the way we deliver the services people need. There are many barriers and blocks, historical practices and poor organisational structures that reduce the effectiveness of existing services."

The support groups said they continue to endure swingeing cutbacks, of up to 25pc in some cases, forcing the downgrading and closure of vital community programmes countrywide.

Irish Independent

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