Mid-West Type 1 diabetes patients offered ‘disgraceful’ services

Facilities and staff shortages compromising care for 2,000, Diabetes Ireland claims

The lack of a dietician and pumps for patients in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary adds to waiting lists in University Hospital Galway.

The lack of a dietician and pumps for patients in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary adds to waiting lists in University Hospital Galway.

 

Nearly 2,000 people with Type 1 diabetes in the Mid-West are faced with “disgraceful” services because of a lack of staff and equipment, Diabetes Ireland has charged.

Last year, the National Survey of Diabetes Care Delivery highlighted shortages across the UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) , which includes six hospitals in Limerick, Ennis, Nenagh and Croom.

It does not have a diabetic dietician and does not supply insulin pumps to new adult patients, which is regarded as essential. However, it does offer pumps to child diabetics.

The lack of a dietician and pumps for patients in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary has added to waiting lists in University Hospital Galway, which offers both services.

Dieticians needed

Highly critical of the shortages, Dr Anna Clarke of Diabetes Ireland said UL Hospitals Group should have five full-time dieticians, but has only one.

In addition, she said University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and St John’s Hospital Limerick should have four consultant endocrinologists.

Under June 2018 guidelines, Type 1 diabetics should have a full dietary plan and training from a dietician within six months of diagnosis.

Acknowledging the shortages of key staff, a spokesman for ULHG said it accepted that “a significant gap” exists in its services.

ULHG has one full-time consultant endocrinologist for adults, but a second consultant post has been advertised. HSE approval for an extra dietician is needed.

The lack of a specialist dietician is “one of the main reasons” why the ULHG “does not start patients on insulin pumps.

Insulin pumps

“We do, however, accept patients established on pumps from elsewhere and these patients are managed under the care of the consultant endocrinologist,” the spokesman stated.

Long-term diabetic James Barry says he was never given access to a diabetic dietician at UHL, despite attending the hospital for 37 years for treatment for Type 1 Diabetes.

“I’m 44 years a diabetic, 37 of those years were in Limerick [Regional Hospital] and I never saw a dietician. I had two appointments – both were cancelled,” Barry said.

His GP referred him to Galway in 2012, where he saw a dietician and was given an insulin pump, which he described as “a life-changing moment”.

Following consultations between the dietician, an endocrinologist and a diabetes nurse, Barry was given an insulin pump, which releases insulin into his body.