Tuesday 23 January 2018

Staff shortage affects kids' hospital care

Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Photo: Mark Condren
Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Photo: Mark Condren

Lack of staff has forced the country's main children's hospital to suspend its insulin pump therapy services for young people with diabetes, some of whom have been on a waiting list for two years.

Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin said it was recently hit by the unprecedented absence of two nurses, who have expertise in teaching children how to use the pump. This pump spares the children from having to take insulin injections daily.

The suspension has caused major upset to a number of families, some of whose children were on a waiting list for up to two years to get the necessary training. These children were hoping to be able to use it before the start of the next school year.

Insulin pump therapy is an effective way to control type 1 diabetes. The devices are about the size of a small mobile phone and can be clipped to the child's belt or stored comfortably in a pocket.

A spokesman for the hospital said its clinical lead in paediatric diabetes, Dr Stephen O'Riordan, has been pushing for appropriate staffing levels for all paediatric diabetes centres nationally.

There are three wholetime equivalent (WTE) nurses employed at the Crumlin hospital: two approved by HSE, and one who is funded by the Diabetes Parents Group. All three of these nurses are senior, experienced nurses that have training in pump management, according to the hospital spokesperson.

"Recently there has been an unprecedented absence of two of these nurses: one has been replaced and one is in the process of being replaced. Both of these replacement nurses are experienced nurses and both are currently in training in diabetes care," he said.

"Due to the time requirements for nurses to become proficient in pump start up therapy, which can take up to six months, there has been a delay.

At present, 11 patients have received funding for pump therapy but are waiting to be placed the programme.

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