A patient who had to wait six months for a rehabilitation appointment after suffering a stroke was one of the speakers at an event in Leinster House on Thursday. Hosted by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) the event was an opportunity for patients to outline the lack of neurological rehabilitation services available nationwide.
Attending the conference, Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore said hundreds of people in her county were waiting for appointments at locations hours from home.
“The government needs to allocate funding for community neuro rehabilitation services across Wicklow now,” said Deputy Whitmore. “People who need these services are suffering severe setbacks in their recovery from major brain injuries, and this can be avoided. I heard today from a patient who was six months post stroke before getting a rehabilitation appointment.
“There are only two rehabilitation facilities around the country. How can the Department of Health defend the government sitting on a ‘rainy day fund’ of hundreds of millions of euros for the future, when patients in need of these rehabilitation services are knee deep in water right now?”
The NAI is group of 30 non-profit organisations who advocate for the rights of 800,000 people in Ireland living with neurological conditions. One of the speakers at the event was Caroline Leonard from Enniskerry who has been campaigning for neurological rehabilitation services in Wicklow for years. She described it as a “battle she and others should never have had to fight”.
“I have submitted numerous parliamentary questions on this issue but there are still no available resources in Wicklow despite promises since 2018 from government,” continued Deputy Whitmore. “I continue to get answers which suggest that government are happy to keep kicking the can down the road on this.
"In Wicklow there are hundreds of people waiting for appointments at locations that aren’t even within an hour of where they live because there are no services available to them in their home county.
"I have also been getting emails on a weekly basis for months from people asking for action on this, as I am sure every TD in the country has been.
“People living with the after effects of brain trauma or with a neurological condition have been left to fight this battle alone for too long.
"It is time for government to get off the bench and act now so that patients can have better outcomes and faster recoveries. It is not an unreasonable request. I will be continuing to put the pressure on the Minister for Health to deliver these services in Wicklow, and around the country.”