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This article was published in January 2013. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Delay means being sent abroad for treatment

31 Jan 2013

mri scanOne of Ireland’s leading neurologists has warned that up to 200 epilepsy patients face being sent abroad for treatment.

Professor Normal Delanty of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, has said that he is unable to look after his patients properly due to lack of services.

Work has recently been completed in Dublin and Cork on state-of-the-art epilepsy monitoring units. These units will provide monitoring for people with difficult to control seizures, who are looking to undergo brain surgery, as well as people who are yet to be diagnosed with epilepsy.

However, according to a report in the Irish Examiner, a ban on recruitment means that the services are not yet open. Prof Delanty said: “This situation is unacceptable. If the unit is not open very soon then these patients will have to be referred abroad.” If patients are referred abroad for treatment, there will be cost implications.

The redevelopment of the epilepsy monitoring units includes a new two bed wing at Cork University Hospital where there previously was none. There is also a new four bed wing to replace a two bed unit at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. This investment, thought to be in the region of 900,000 euros (£772,500) is being wasted because of a lack of frontline staff.

This lack of service is putting patients at risk as well as increasing waiting times, the report says. One patient who recently tried to get funding for treatment abroad was told by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to “seek access to the appropriate services at Beaumont”.

This service remains closed. According to Professor Delanty this proves that the HSE, who are withholding money to recruit staff, do not know what is going on. He said: “It shows one arm of the HSE does not know what the other arm is doing.”

There are currently 186 people on a waiting list for Beaumont Hospital. The delay in filling the five nursing posts and two EEG technologist posts will only contribute to this long waiting list.

Billy Kelleher, health spokesperson for the Irish government, said that it is “completely inappropriate” to send patients abroad and that he will raise the issue in the Irish parliament, the Dáil.

You can find information about the state of epilespy services in England here.



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