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“Patients deserve better” – Cork needs 16 more neurological nurse specialists

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Cork University Hospital.

Cork University Hospital.

Cork University Hospital.

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URGENT investment is needed to address the serious shortage of neurological nurse specialists working in Cork in order to tackle the massive backlog of patients waiting to access services.

That’s according to the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), which has urged Cork TDs to lend their support to their ‘Patients Deserve Better Campaign’, which is calling for a significant increase in the number of nurses currently employed at the Cork University.

The campaign, which is supported by more than 30 organisations working with people with neurological conditions, is calling for the number of nurse specialists in neurology at the CUH to be dramatically increased from four to 20.

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Speaking at a meeting in Dublin on Wednesday NAI executive director Magdalen Rodgers said that while there was a shortage of more than 100 nurse specialists in neurology across the country, the problem was particularly acute in Cork.

“There is shortfall of 16 nurse specialists at the CUH, which is causing long waiting lists and reducing the quality of care provided to patients,” said Ms Rodgers.

“Cork politicians can help address this by supporting our campaign for more nurses at the CUH. Neurology patients deserve better,” she added.

Echoing these sentiments, Tony Wilkinson, chair of the Cork Parkinson’s Association, told the meeting that based on local and international recommendations the CUH needs a full compliment of 20 nurse specialists in neurology.

“Increasing the number of nurses will reduce waiting lists, free up hospital resources and deliver real improvements for neurology patients,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“Speaking as someone who lives with a long-term neurological condition and has been lucky enough to have a nurse specialist, I know the positive impact it can have on managing your condition. We want access to nurse specialists in neurology to be the norm and not the exception for patients,” he added.

Among those to attend the meeting was Cork East Sinn Fein TD Pat Buckley, who said he was surprised to learn the number of specialist neurology nurses at the CUH was just 20% of what it should be.

“This figure is certainly an eye-opening one. You simply cannot expect to provide the level and quality of services needed for patients with such a small amount of nurses,” said Deputy Buckley.

He said it was symptomatic of a wider problem within what he described as the “creaking” Irish health service, that of staff attracting and retaining staff.

“A key problem is that the pay is too low and the working conditions are poor. That is why we see highly educated Irish health professionals going to work abroad where the pay and conditions are better,” said Deputy Buckley.

“While I support the NAI campaign, very little is likely to change unless there is a major restructuring of our health system. The current system places way too much emphasis on management when it should be about employing people on the front line where they are most needed,” he added.


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