Pledge

Over the last two days, and thanks to the efforts of one of An Saol’s strongest supporters, two candidates for the upcoming elections signed up for our Pledge: Catherine Murphy (Social Democrats) and Roderick O’Gorman (Green Party).

PLEASE make absolutely sure that candidates in your constituency sign An Saol’s pledge.


First things first

Pádraig is taking on this cycle-thing as his own. He makes me think we should return the MOTOMed gadget to the HSE and get himself a normal exercise bike instead! Well, maybe not quite yet, but we’ve been left absolutely amazed. In all honesty, I’d never had thought that he would take this over, ignore the motor and get cycling himself. (I’m just showing my ‘innocence’, I guess, with someone who doesn’t know, never knew, what boundaries are.) We used to look at other injured wondering how they were doing it! And here is the man himself doing half an hour almost exclusively himself, at his own pace, achieving a new PB every day.


Shortage of beds for brain injury patients criticised

UnknownLabour’s Minister of State for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability in the current Irish Government,  Kathleen Lynch, said there was a chronic shortage of beds for patients with acquired brain injuries and a complete lack of such beds in some regions. “With a serious head injury, immediate intervention is essential to ensure the person returns to normality, if normality can be achieved.

“It is conservatively estimated that there are 10,000 new brain injuries every year in this country, but there are just 110 beds in the Republic to deal with these people. That doesn’t make sense at any level,” she said.

“Even if we look at the Bucharest model, Romania, with a population of 22 million has 32 specialists per million of population.”

Ms Lynch said anything beyond a two-week delay was totally unacceptable, “but the tragic certainty that a sick person has to wait two years for an initial assessment is nothing short of abandonment of its obligation to the public by the HSE”.

The HSE, “which has a national annual budget in excess of €13 billion, a sum that would float some of the newer economies in the EU, should be giving us a much better service”.

She didn’t say this recently, but in 2008, when she was speaking during a Labour private members’ motion on neurological services.

The then Minister, Mary Harney, said a final draft report of a national review by the HSE of neurological services had been completed and “has been submitted to the Director of the National Hospitals Office for consideration”.

She said a new hospital with a completion target date of 2012, would provide additional treatment and diagnostic capacity. The design for the hospital is to be submitted for planning by mid-2008.

She added that “the HSE has also informed me that plans have also been prepared to develop a satellite unit of the National Rehabilitation Hospital attached to Beaumont Hospital, linking the rehabilitation expertise of NRH with the neurological services in Beaumont.

“This new proposed unit will provide acute medical rehabilitation services and early rehabilitation for those suffering from brain injury who access the National Neurosciences Unit at Beaumont Hospital and who currently have to access services at the National Rehabilitation Hospital.” She said the Government “is also committed in our programme to increasing rehabilitation bed capacity”.

Then Labour health spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan, now the Minister of State for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability in the current Irish Government, was “particularly concerned that we are hearing long-needed development of service being abandoned in order just to simply keep the service going without any changes in the way the service is run”.

Quotes above from an article by Marie O’Halloran in The Irish Times of 23 April 2008. Here is what I would add…

Reality check

None of Labour’s proposals tabled, none of the very grave concerns raised by them in their private motion eight (!) years ago have been tackled during their time in Government over the past five years when they had a chance to do so, which included —

  • A chronic shortage of beds for patients with acquired brain injuries and a complete lack of such beds in some regions;
  • An increase in the number of beds to treat ABI victims adequately (O’Sullivan mentioned that Ireland should aim to match Romania);
  • To do something about getting immediate intervention for ABI victims which is essential to ensure the person returns to normality, if normality can be achieved.

None of the promises made by Mary Harney actually materialised: that includes —

  • A new hospital with a completion target date of 2012, with additional treatment and diagnostic capacity;
  • A satellite unit of the National Rehabilitation Hospital attached to Beaumont Hospital, linking the rehabilitation expertise of NRH with the neurological services in Beaumont;
  • The provision of acute medical rehabilitation services and early rehabilitation for those suffering from brain injury who access the National Neurosciences Unit at Beaumont Hospital;
  • An increase in rehabilitation bed capacity”.

In the meantime…

  • Injured ABI patients spent months or years in acute hospitals, with insufficiently trained staff, acquiring new, additional, and completely avoidable injuries such as dropped feet, dislocated shoulders, or bed sores — occupying badly needed, very expensive beds unnecessarily;
  • The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) does not have one (!) neurologist; not one ophthalmologist; and an insufficient number of therapists.
  • When leaving the NRH, they go back to an acute hospital, or a nursing home, or (in very few cases) home — where there is insufficient support to help the injured and their families to deal with their highly complex needs.
  • The Neurological Alliance of Ireland, together with the National Clinical Programme for Neurology, today published a report stating, among other facts —
    • Ratios for the recommended number of neurologists per head of population (1:70,0000) are exceeded within each hospital group with the Mid West hospital group coming out worst with a ratio of 1:200,000.
    • Waiting times for routine MRI scanning exceed twelve months in seven of the eleven centres.
    • Ten of the eleven neurology centres reported very limited or no access to community neurorehabilitation services which are crucial for recovery and prevention of disability for people with neurological conditions.
    • The lack of neurorehabilitation services places an unsustainable burden on neurology services (RSch: never mind patients!!!) which are unable to discharge patients, or are forced to readmit patients for therapy services that should be available in the community.

Facit

  • Everybody agrees that the services for ABI in Ireland are inadequate – to say it politely.
  • Political parties don’t keep their promises in relation to ABI.
  • Established service providers don’t (cannot?) deliver what is required, including Beaumont Hospital and the National Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • The HSE does not (cannot?) invest in neurological rehabilitation as is required.
  • The situation is worse for survivors of severe acquired brain injury (sABI)
  • We need to set up a pilot project involving all those who really want to change the situation to demonstrate how to help survivors of sABI, based on best international practice and most recent international research.

As there doesn’t seem to be anyone else to do it, let’s work together under the umbrella of An Saol.

We need all sorts of expertise, from health policy to finance to legal to nursing to therapy to medical to regulatory to research to social media to design to marketing to fundraising.

I know I asked you a few times before. Finally: here is the form to sign up!

Now.

Here.