Diabetes group says HSE policy a 'failure'


As diabetes-related amputations and blindness continue to rise, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is being accused of “amplifying this public health disaster” by failing to fill critical posts and make retinal screening available, despite funding being available since 2010.

New HSE statistics show there were 781 diabetes-related lower-limb amputations in Ireland during 2010 and 2011 – a 20 per cent increase on the previous two-year period. The condition is now the biggest single cause of amputation, stroke, blindness and kidney failure in this State, according to Diabetes Action.

“The greatest measure of failure in treatment of diabetes is leg amputation. This tragedy occurs daily in our hospitals. One person with diabetes goes blind each week, caused by diabetic retinopathy.

“Moreover, promised advances in diabetes paediatric services to widen availability of insulin pumps for children under five years haven’t materialised,” said consultant endocrinologist Dr Kevin Moore, of the Irish Endocrine Society.

Accusing the HSE of failing on diabetes care “on every front”, Dr Moore said footcare, eyecare and paediatric services had all been funded in HSE service plans since 2010. However, of 16 footcare posts, nine remained unfilled, the promised retinopathy screening programme had stalled, and paediatric nursing and dietetic posts in Cork, Limerick and Galway had not been advertised.

Commenting on HSE plans, Dr Moore said: “It will not be safe or acceptable for the HSE to move diabetes care to primary-care level until essential services such as footcare and retinal screening are in place. Most GPs are not trained in these complex aspects of diabetes care.”

Diabetes affects about 190,000 people in Ireland and consumes up to 10 per cent of the health budget, mostly spent treating costly preventable health complications, according to Diabetes Action.