Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the Minister for Health to set out clear funding to deliver equitable neuro-rehabilitation services across the state in the Budget for 2024.
The TD for Waterford said that there is currently no funding for teams in CHO areas 5, 8, and 9 which cover the south-east, midlands, and Dublin north city. He said that there was also a need for 70 additional specialist neurology nurses to support hospital-based services.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“There is a shameful disparity in the availability across the state of neuro-rehabilitation services for people with acquired injuries and disabilities.
“These are people often with life-long conditions who need multidisciplinary care and support in the community close to where they live to avoid unnecessary deterioration and repeat hospitalisation.
“There is currently no funding for teams in CHO areas 5, 8, and 9 which cover the south-east, midlands, and Dublin north city. Services are also stretched where teams do exist.
“This is placing an unnecessary and avoidable burden on hospital-based services, which are also understaffed and in need of 70 additional specialist nurses. There are tens of thousands of patients waiting on neurology waiting lists as a result.
“The neuro-rehabilitation strategy is yet another example of a good strategy that has failed because of a lack of resourcing and a lack of political will. This is causing unnecessary and avoidable strife for people who are just trying to get on with their lives.
“Funding in the region of €12 million is needed to deliver the much-needed teams in the areas which are not covered, and to ensure that the existing teams are fully staffed.
“In the context of the health budget and taking into account the savings and efficiencies that this investment would return by keeping people out of hospital, this is a very reasonable amount by any cost-benefit analysis.
“That is not to mention the significant improvement this would deliver in people’s lives. It is inexplicable that the Minister for Health has not made this investment in neurorehabilitation.
“The Minister for Health must set aside funding to deliver these services in the Budget for next year. He must also set out a workforce plan to develop, train, and retain this workforce to provide a sustainable service. These specialists will not appear out of thin air, but will need to be trained and attracted into the health service.”