Resourcing of Neurology Services in Ireland : 5 years on 2015-2020
The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) is an umbrella organisation for 30 non-profit organisations including PSPA Ireland. The NAI advocates for the rights of 800,000 people in Ireland with neurological conditions. The latest report was launched on 15th March 2021 as part of Brain Awareness Week and highlights a disappointing failure to keep pace with the needs of people with neurological conditions.
In 2015 the NAI in conjunction with the National Clinical Programmes carried out a survey of neurological needs across Ireland to inform the neurology Model of Care for Ireland. In 2015 the key findings were:
- Deficits in staffing.
- Lack of dedicated beds.
- Unacceptable waiting lists for diagnostic tests.
- Critical lack of neurorehabilitation services.
Recommendations were made to
- ensure access to multidisciplinary care.
- Ringfensed dedicated neurology beds.
- Tackle long term waiting times for MRI Scanning.
- Invest in neurorehabilitation services.
Between 2015 and 2020 demand for neurology services has increased significantly and outpatient departments waiting lists have almost doubled. The reliance on patient organisations to provide an array of vital services for long term community management and support has increased but so have the costs.
In healthcare Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) comes under the Parkinson’s Disease grouping. 30 Clinical Nurse Specialists is the recommended number. There are 6 in place and no PSP Nurse specialist
The neurology services are critically understaffed and the numbers are largely unchanged since 2015. The existing pressures in Neurology have been compounded by the Covid 19 pandemic and redeployment of staff.
The number of Neuropsychologists remain unchanged and the majority of centres do not have specialist dieticians. Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists numbers are unchanged or reduced. The level of Consultant Neurologists is still well below the 64.3 recommended in the Model of Care for Neurological Services in Ireland. Thankfully funding for 2021 will provide Consultant Neurologists in Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny and Waterford but these centres lack a full multidisciplinary team (MDT) vital for the provision of effective care and management in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy , Corticobasal Degeneration and other neurological conditions.
The 2021 Report Recommends
- Addressing ongoing critical understanding across neurological services through year on year investment.
- Investment in neurological services.
- Address capacity issues to enable neurology services to meet current and emerging need
- Tackling the funding crisis amongst not for profit providers of neurological care.
The full report is available on www.nai.ie