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 The information may be out of date.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

Irish monitoring units still not open

15 Mar 2013

DublinIrish healthcare bosses are paying to send people with epilepsy abroad for assessment, while failing to open new local test centres.

In a bizarre mix up with red tape, the newly refurbished monitoring unit in Dublin, and a refurbished unit in Cork remain closed. The Irish Healthcare Executive (HSE) has a recruitment freeze at the moment, meaning the nurses needed to staff the centres haven’t been hired. However, patients are being sent abroad, at great expense, instead of opening the centres.

According to reports in the Dublin People and the Irish Examiner, the HSE has spent around 900,000 Euros on the new testing centres. Testing at these centres can help to inform the treatment for people who have uncontrolled epilepsy. This is done by monitoring the person 24 hours a day to see what type of seizures they have, and how frequently.

Yvonne Brennan has uncontrolled epilepsy. She is currently awaiting assessment at the Dublin centre. She said that if the HSE rejects her second application for assessment in the UK, she may have to have the test done privately in the UK at a huge cost.

Describing the severity of her illness, she explained: “I have a complicated type of epilepsy and it is hard to control. There is no pattern to it and that is why it is so dangerous.

“I‘ve had plastic surgery on my face twice from bad falls. My front teeth are false; they were knocked out. I generally have hurt myself. It can happen anywhere, at any time.”

In October, Ms Brennan applied to the HSE to undergo an epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) assessment at a centre in the UK through the Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS). However, she claimed her application was rejected because the HSE told her the assessment was available in Ireland.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said it could not comment on Ms Brennan’s individual case. However, she added: “Five staff nurses are required to deliver continuous 24/7 care in the new four-bed unit. Two of these nurses are due to start in these posts in the coming weeks”. 


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