850 outpatient rheumatology appointments in West Postponed
Outpatient rheumatology appointments for up to 850 people in the west have been postponed until later this year because of staff shortages. The HSE have said a number of clinics scheduled to take place at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway have been cancelled for the summer months.
“The situation is now out of control at Merlin Park and Galway University Hospital and there is no doubt patient care has been put on the back burner while Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, gets to grips with his department. All elective surgery at Galway University Hospital (GUH) has already been cancelled until the end of the month due to the volume of people presenting at the Emergency department of the hospital and currently almost 1,500 people are waiting to see a consultant in Galway. It is clear the Health Service West is completely overwhelmed and under-resourced and in need of urgent assistance from the government. Things have gone from back to worse in our health service since the Fine Gael government took office almost five years ago. This is particularly true for the West of Ireland who seem to be constantly at the back of the queue for vital services.” says Chambers
“The reason those outpatient clinics are so important is that people with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are very often reviewed at outpatient clinics. Intervention and early treatment is seen as crucial to easing symptoms and assisting in pain management. Without these outpatient clinics people are left to suffer alone and attempt to manage their own pain.”
“Some patients have been offered new appointments but anyone that has been offered a new appointment has been given a date in December. This is an outrageous length of time for new appointments and the HSE need to act now and ensure people are seen at a much earlier date. The question now is how long will those who have not been given a new appointment have to wait? Are they looking at dates in the new year?! Mayo, Galway and Roscommon patients are worst affected by this escalating situation and if current appointments have been cancelled and pushed forward, this will have a knock on effect for future patients. If this situation is not rectified and additional staff put in place immediately to deal with the demand for services, you will see a situation where people in Mayo will find it increasingly difficult to get an appointment.” says Chambers
“As a member of the HSE West Forum, I have contacted the HSE Executive to ask for time to be allocated at our meeting on Tuesday to discuss the cancellation of the Outpatient rheumatology appointments. I am pleased to say that my request is being accommodated and I am awaiting an update from the HSE Executive on this matter.” says Chambers