INCREASING the number of nurse specialists in neurology will reduce waiting lists, free up hospital resources and deliver real improvements for neurology patients.
So says the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) that launched a new campaign seeking investment to tackle the serious shortage of nurse specialists in neurology in Waterford.
Based on local and international recommendations, University Hospital Waterford needs six nurse specialists in neurology.
The hospital has only, caring for people in the South East.
Nationally, there is a shortfall of over 100 nurse specialists in neurology in the Irish healthcare system.
Magdalen Rogers NAI Executive Director told Kilkenny Press: “There are 800,000 people living in Ireland with a neurological condition and they have been historically underserved by the health system.
“We know that 24,000 are waiting for a neurology outpatient appointment, with 8,601 waiting over 18 months resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment. Neurology patients deserve better.
“Investing in more nurse specialists is a cost-efficient way of freeing up capacity of neurology consultants, reducing waiting times and ensuring that patients in the South East and across the country have access to the specialist support they need to manage their conditions.”
A RANGE OF SERVICES
Nurse specialists in neurology provide a range of services to people with neurological conditions including nurse-led clinics, rapid access clinics, telephone advisory services and outreach services.
They can significantly improve the quality of care at lower cost, mainly by preventing unnecessary admissions, through advice, information, support, counselling and – with appropriate safeguards – adjustments in medication.
At the launch, Ged O’Connor, Consultant Neurologist at University Hospital Waterford, explained how nurse specialists provide a range of services to people with neurological conditions including nurse-led clinics, rapid access clinics, telephone advisory services and outreach services.
He said: “Patients who have access to a neurology nurse specialist have care which is more flexible, more responsive to their needs and more patient-centred.
“Nurse specialists are a fantastic liaison for GPs, helping to bridge that gap in care that can open up between primary and secondary care.
“Depending on their scope of practice, they can even free up consultant neurologist outpatient capacity and help to reduce waiting lists.”
Marie Hayes, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Neurology and Valerie O’Shea, person living with multiple sclerosis also spoke.
The Patients Deserve Better campaign is supported by Roche and brings together over 30 non-profit organisations working with people with neurological conditions.