A consultant paediatrician with a special interest in diabetes is overseas and, owing to prior work commitments, is expected to take up a post in Galway in March 2017, the Dáil has been told.
The appointment “has been recognised as a priority post” for Galway University Hospital. Every effort was being made to appoint a locum in Galway in the intervening period until the person who has accepted the post could take it up in March next year, said Minister of State Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.
Galway University Hospital serves as a regional centre for the delivery of diabetes, endocrine and related services to the population of the west.
“Children’s needs and how we look after them should be at the centre of what we do,” said the Minister. “Parents and families face many challenges in caring for their children with diabetes. I acknowledge that this is not easy.”
There was an arrangement in place with Limerick University Hospital whereby all infants and children with newly diagnosed diabetes younger than five years of age were referred for specialist services, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Deputy Anne Rabbitte was told. This would continue until the new post-holder starts work.
The Saolta University Health Care Group said that it was seeking to recruit a locum consultant in the intervening period.
Full implementation of the model of care by the HSE will take place over the coming years. This model of care will improve access to and the quality of care for affected children by reducing acute and chronic complications associated with type 1 diabetes.
It would also improve the quality of life for children and families by optimising diabetes education, carbohydrate counting and insulin pump initiation, said the Minister.
Separately, in the Saolta hospital group region, an insulin pump therapy service for children in the northwest is in place at Sligo University Hospital, with outreach clinics being delivered at Letterkenny University Hospital.
At a national level, a new model of care for paediatric diabetes was launched by the then Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar, last December. This model of care was developed with expert input in line with international evidence, said Corcoran Kennedy. The consultation process also involved diabetic representative organisations, children with diabetes and their parents. The model proposes to organise paediatric diabetic care around integrated practice units, which will consist of one centre of reference while several additional units will undertake all forms of diabetes care.
Tertiary care and insulin pump therapy will be provided to children of all ages by a multidisciplinary team. Additional units attached to the centre will support the delivery of services locally acting under the umbrella of these integrated practice units.