Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
Health Services Provision
536. To ask the Minister for Health the measures he is taking to reduce the three-year waiting list to see a paediatric rheumatologist; when the third paediatric rheumatologist will be employed; the outcome of the meetings (details supplied) on the matter of increased risk of juvenile arthritis in children with Down's syndrome in November 2019; the way his Department is raising awareness of the increased risk of juvenile arthritis in children with Down's syndrome to general practitioners and other healthcare professionals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44250/20]
I sincerely regret that children can experience a long waiting time for Rheumatology treatment, and I am conscious of the burden that this places on them and their families.
Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) has advised my Department that during the initial phases of COVID-19, all face to face hospital outpatient reviews and most of the planned diagnostic tests, including MRI, were deferred in response to the pandemic. CHI at Crumlin have recommenced the majority of outpatient and diagnostic services, albeit at reduced numbers, due to public health guidelines on social distancing. Currently, Consultant Rheumatologists are seeing a number of patients in the outpatient suite including urgent patients and those who were deferred during the early phases of COVID-19.
CHI has further advised that there is an active recruitment campaign for an additional Rheumatology Consultant underway. This addition to the medical staff will allow for an increased number of patients to be seen, diagnosed and treatment initiated, as part of the comprehensive Rheumatology service.
In relation to the query raised regarding meetings held and associated promotion of awareness campaigns, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.