Rehabilitation services are crucial

 

Sir, – Your reporter Jack Power highlighted in your pages on Monday the work being done in rehabilitation in Clontarf Hospital in Dublin for people recovering from Covid-19 (“Inside the hospital rehabilitating coronavirus patients after ICU”, News, April 27th). In doing so, he ably described the nature of rehabilitation; it is about optimising function, returning to doing the things that matter to a person, increasing independence.

These are worthwhile aims regardless of what specific illness or condition is responsible for a person’s difficulties.

While Covid-19 is currently getting all the headlines, it needs to be remembered that before any of this started there were plenty of people in need of rehabilitation and improved disability services. Their stories were just less prominent, their disabilities unseen.

Disability and rehabilitation services have not been prioritised by those responsible for funding and delivering health and social care in Ireland.

The result is that while there is plenty of excellent clinical practice, there are far too few of us at the coal-face to meet the needs of the population. “Early” intervention for children is anything but. We have a fraction of the rehabilitation specialists we need – less than 10 per cent of the European average for a country our size.

I am pleased to see us acknowledge the value of rehabilitation in improving the lives of people recovering from Covid-19, some of whom will experience disability transiently.

Will this lesson translate to meaningful investment in rehabilitation and disability services?

It is overdue that the State acknowledge that the least it owes its citizens is to give them an equal opportunity to participate in their own lives on their own terms – by denying those with chronic disabilities the services they need, we turn our backs on thousands. – Yours, etc,

Dr IRWIN GILL,

Consultant Paediatrician,

Children’s Health Ireland

at Temple Street,

Dublin 1.