Failure to appoint paediatric diabetes consultant ‘disgraceful’

Eugene Murphy criticises Leo Varadkar over staffing delays at Galway University Hospital

Minister for Health Simon Harris:  said “delays arose and, in February 2017, the hospital was advised that the candidate was no longer in a position to take up the post”. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Minister for Health Simon Harris: said “delays arose and, in February 2017, the hospital was advised that the candidate was no longer in a position to take up the post”. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

The failure to appoint a Galway University Hospital consultant, almost two years after a candidate was selected for the job, has been described as “disgraceful and totally unacceptable”.

Fianna Fáil TD for Longford Roscommon Eugene Murphy said children under 12 with Type 1 diabetes from Roscommon, Galway and Mayo were forced to travel to Limerick for complex treatment because of the delays.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the Saolta healthcare group prioritised the filling of this consultant paediatric diabetes specialist post and a candidate was selected in late 2015.

“However delays arose and, in February 2017, the hospital was advised that the candidate was no longer in a position to take up the post,” he said.

Mr Murphy said they had been led to believe the candidate not being available was the reason for the delay. But this was the third medical vacancy where the candidate was said to be no longer available and he asked if the candidate was being blamed when the system was in fact at fault.

Mr Murphy had a dig at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who as minister for health in 2015 launched the Model of Care for Children and Young People with Type 1 diabetes.

‘Lack of commitment’

The Co Roscommon-based TD said Mr Varadkar launched the plan “amid much fanfare but this model is failing due to lack of commitment and urgency by the Department of Health and the HSE”.

The model was a blueprint for paediatric diabetes care, putting children and their families at the centre of their care plan, he said. It included plans for integrated practice units on a regional basis and a centre of excellence supporting those units. It also identified the staffing required for high-quality care.

Mr Murphy said “we have a disgraceful and totally unacceptable situation” where the post has remained unfilled for the past two years. He said children had to travel to Limerick for treatment of a “complex, chronic illness requiring continuous medical care”.

He added: “We need equity and local access and support for all children with Type 1 diabetes, regardless of where they live”.

Post readvertised

In a reply to a written parliamentary question from the Fianna Fáil TD, Mr Harris said that, in light of the importance of the post, “it has been readvertised by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) as a priority and applications have now been received. It is understood interviews for the position are now under way.

“The HSE is actively engaging with the PAS in order to fill this critical post as soon as possible.”

In his reply, the Minister said that while children under 12 were being referred to University Hospital Limerick for diabetes treatment, patients over 12 “are commenced on insulin pump therapy under the guidance of a consultant endocrinologist at Galway University Hospital”.