December 2, 2021
National Neurorehabilitation Strategy neglected by government – Violet-Anne Wynne TD

The Joint Oireachtas Disability Matters Committee today heard testimonies from the Neurological Alliance of Ireland and the National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers. 

The topic of the meetings for the last number of weeks has been aligning disability services with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne said: 

“The witnesses at this week’s meeting exposed how poorly successive cabinets have implemented the National Neurorehabilitation Strategy, which was initially published in 2011. 

“A decade down the line it is clear it has been radically under-resourced. The more recent implementation framework was given a three-year tenure of 2019-2021, which has just expired but made very little to no real progress.

“The strategy quantified the number of neurorehabilitation beds needed across the state to meet the level of need of neurorehabilitation patients. The analysis estimated this to be 288 beds.

“At present, fewer than 50 additional beds have been put on stream since the 2011 strategy was produced. In Sinn Féin’s alternative Budget 2022, we fully costed the provision of 50 additional beds for next year alone.

“Also, the strategy recommended the establishment of community neurorehabilitation teams – of which only two have been configured to date, and only partially funded at that.

“The Steering Group responsible for the implementation plan 2019-2021 has only met twice since its formation in 2019 and has not yet at all in 2021. This reflects a total lack of commitment and departmental will to advance the plan and make real the commitments of the strategy.

“This delay cannot be fobbed off by excuses of Covid-19 or staff changes within the HSE – this strategy is 10 years old, it predates the pandemic and the lack of coordination and leadership on this strategy is inexcusable.

“The distinct lack of neurorehabilitation services is putting an unnecessary strain on neurology services. Although related, these areas of treatments are different and patients should not be funnelled into one already over-extended department.

“We know in UHL there is a shortfall of eight neurology nurses. Out of the 11 positions, only three are filled. This lack of staff, resources and forward-planning is unacceptable and is compromising patient care.

“I have submitted parliamentary questions, and have written to the Minister on this issue as it requires immediate attention and accountability.”

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