Tuesday, 23 May 2017
I thank the Minister of State for his reply. It is very interesting that the HSE and his Department are taking the approach that there should be a new model of care in assisting and treating inflammatory bowel disease patients across the country. I appeal to the Minister of State to give serious consideration to the initiative I outlined in my initial contribution, that is, the engagement of 28 inflammatory bowel disease nurses across the country. As I said, less than half of the hospitals across the country have inflammatory bowel disease nurses available to them who could make early interventions in dealing with conditions such as Crohn's disease and colitis to empower patients to manage their condition in a better way. It is the classic no-brainer in terms of spending approximately €1 million each year to prevent people from having to present at the local emergency department and minimise the risk of their having to undergo very invasive and complex surgery. In that context, we need a national strategy to address all of the implications of Crohn's disease and colitis, conditions that are becoming more prevalent. There are also financial consequences for families up and down the country, with job loss being a reality. I outlined the figures which are staggering. Any condition in respect of which 48% of sufferers have reported that they have either had to leave a job or lost a job needs our urgent attention. We need to look at the financial implications and how we can support such families.