Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Delivering Universal Healthcare: Statements


2:10 pm

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

If one lives in Mayo or many parts of the west, the struggle to access neurology services is monumental. The regional inequality and inequity are stark. This is the account from just one young woman who is trying to ease her suffering. She is a 40-year-old mother of three young children living in rural Mayo and suffering with debilitating nerve pain in her face, a condition called trigeminal neuralgia. She cannot access the care she needs. She has been in and out of Sligo hospital where she was left on a corridor in severe pain for over 36 hours and sent home with no help or follow-up. Her GP has done his absolute best but is at the end of what he can do and the young woman has not had a single pain-free moment for over six weeks. She is going back to Sligo hospital again tomorrow to try to access neurology through the emergency department again, and dreading what is ahead of her. Even though she cannot afford to do so, she tried to get a private appointment only to be told the wait is over six months. She cannot live like this for another six months. She is signed off work but is not entitled to illness benefit, which means her husband is now the sole earner, trying to pay the rent and keep the children fed. She needs to sort this pain out so she can return to work as soon as possible. She would appreciate any help in trying to access neurology services so that the pain can be controlled and her life will no longer be on hold.

She said her children are suffering as their mammy cannot function most days due to pain.

How did we get to this? We urgently need consultant neurology services for Mayo University Hospital. Sinn Féin has made funding proposals in its alternative budget for health to fully roll out, staff and manage clinical rehabilitation teams. These teams, if fully resourced and staffed, would provide State-wide coverage of managed clinical rehabilitation services that would fulfil the HSE's strategy and model of care for neurorehabilitation.

Professor Flanagan asked last week how it was that we cannot transfer national strategies into action and how we can free up funds. What is happening is crazy. Every time we come into the House, the Minister will tell us about the amount of taxpayers' money that has been provided for health. There is no accountability, evaluation or measurement of outcomes. There is nothing other than giving money in a scattergun approach, while giving no money to other sectors.

Neurology services in the west have to be funded, in particular in Mayo University Hospital. The next time the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, visits Mayo University Hospital, he should not give it advance warning so it can clear all of the trolleys, have everything pristine and give a wonderful PowerPoint presentation where he comes away thinking that everything is wonderful there. He must lift the bonnet in order to see what is going on and how people are being mistreated in this country.


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