Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has called on the Government to invest in neurorehabilitation services for people with neurological conditions throughout Ireland.
Teachta Ward is one of over 800,000 Irish people who are living with neurological conditions, having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007.
Teachta Ward said:
“I know from my own personal experience, as someone who lives with multiple sclerosis, how difficult it is to access neurological services in the state. I was diagnosed 14 years ago, after years of no treatment or misdiagnosis. At one stage I needed to use a walking aid to get around.
“My access to neurological services since my diagnosis has been scant to say the least. I have had two meetings with a neurologist since I was diagnosed and have received just one MRI scan.
“I am currently on a waiting list for a follow up MRI scan since 2018. While I feel fitter physically and mentally than I ever have, I have no idea if the multiple sclerosis has developed in a neurological sense. That is why the MRI scan is critical.
“My situation is not unique but is reflective of the systemic failure in neurology services in the state.
“Neurorehabilitation services are essential to promote recovery and prevent disability for people who experience stroke, acquired brain injury or spinal injury and for those with progressive neurological disease.
“I am just one of over 800,000 Irish people are living with neurological conditions including those living with dementia, stroke, acquired brain injury, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
“An implementation framework for the Neurorehabilitation Strategy, published in 2019, committed to putting in place nine community neurorehabilitation teams nationwide by the end of 2021. To date, only two have been funded, both in the East of the country, despite the lack of services across the entire rest of the country.
“This is not good enough and I am calling on the Government to honour this commitment. Early diagnosis and ongoing access to treatment is paramount to patients maintaining a good quality of life.
“I am supporting the Neurological Alliance of Ireland who last week stated that Article 26 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities commits countries to develop appropriate rehabilitation services for people with disabilities. Ireland is failing to meet this commitment for thousands of Irish people with neurological disability and the Neurological Alliance will highlight this in its forthcoming submission on the draft State report on the UNCRPD.”