Parents from the Cork Spina Bifida Association have highlighted the dire state of Ireland’s paediatric urology service.
In an item on Newstalk’s Breakfast programme broadcast on Thursday, May 12th, Donal Guerin and Pauline O’Neill described the current failure to provide a comprehensive paediatric urology service as shocking and disgraceful. They went on to say that the failure to provide such a service was depriving children with spina bifida of a vital element of their healthcare. Donal Guerin said that the failure to invest in such a service will greatly increase the risk that children with spina bifida will go on to suffer significant irreversible kidney damage, which will have a massive impact on their future health. For the past several years, there has been no dedicated paediatric urologist in place in Ireland to provide services to children with spina bifida. Parents are forced to bring their children to urologists whose expertise is in the area of adult urology, which is not appropriate. There have also been many cases where children have had to bring their children to the UK so that they can access services. There is also a shortage of nurse specialists who can support parents and deal with the complex issues such as incontinence, which must be managed on a day to day basis. In some areas, children with spina bifida are unable to access any expertise in the area of urology.
Donal and Pauline went on to say that they welcome the forthcoming appointment of a paediatric urologist in Temple St Hoapital in June. However, this is only the beginning. This post will have to be supported by the appointment of nurse specialists – both in Temple St and around the country. Currently in the Cork region, there are approximately 500 children on a waiting list for outpatient urology treatment and 56 children for inpatient treatment. It is clear from these figures that a huge investment is required if Ireland’s health service is to meet the needs of children who require a paediatric urological service.
Finally, Donal and Pauline said that the provision of a comprehensive and accessible paediatric urology service must be a key element in any new health strategy. Doctors in other European countries, who have treated Irish children with urological problems, have described Ireland as a first world country with a third world paediatric urology service. In the centenary of the Proclamation of 1916, with its call to treat all children of the national equally, it is time to provide the health services that the families of Ireland need.
The People Before Profit Alliance in Cork supports the Cork Spina Bifida Association in their efforts to attain proper care and services for children. The new government should immediately move to bring treatment and facilities up to an acceptable standard and ensure equality of care for children with spina bifida.
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