Donegal Disappointment in local Diabetes Services



Diabetes Ireland Donegal Branch express disappointment in local service development following meeting in Leinster House.


24 November 2017: Yesterday, representatives from the Donegal branch of Diabetes Ireland along with Professor Hilary Hoey (Chairperson, Diabetes Ireland) and Dr Anna Clarke, Health Promotion & Research Manager, Diabetes Ireland), supported by Donegal politicians, met with Department of Health and HSE officials to discuss diabetes service developments in Donegal.


Unfortunately, the Minister for Health Simon Harris, who was to chair the meeting, was not available due to urgent pressing business in the Dail but did meet the Diabetes Ireland delegation briefly in the hallway after the meeting and promised to discuss their concerns with his officials.


Diabetes Ireland was seeking confirmation that resources for a second consultant endocrinologist led  diabetes team for adult services would be made available for Letterkenny Hospital. This was because current waiting time for a review appointment significantly exceeded international recommendations and with the high number of young adults transitioning from the paediatric diabetes service the waiting time was only going to get longer, which has negative medical health consequences for patients. Unfortunately, Diabetes Ireland were informed that there was funding available to only employ a second Consultant Endocrinologist.


Diabetes Ireland also highlighted the lack of dietetic services available for diabetes patients, and the withdrawal of existing protected dietician diabetes time by management in Letterkenny University hospital over the past 6 months. They pointed out that a full time dietician had been sanctioned over 4 years ago by the then Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, due to the impact on health for families in the critical need for carbohydrate counting for optimum daily glucose control. The delegation was informed, and welcomed, that a replacement dietetic post was now with the HSE National Recruitment Service and asked that the appointment be fast tracked.


In terms of paediatric diabetes services, it was confirmed that the vacant Paediatric Consultant post in  Sligo University Hospital which supports the Donegal Diabetes Insulin Pump therapy service was also with the HSE National Recruitment Service. Diabetes Ireland was disappointed to hear that the post was again being advertised for a paediatrician into Sligo with a special interest in diabetes and would only entail a total of 22 hours per month of protected diabetes time (i.e one half day per month).


This is not in keeping with the recommendations of the HSE approved National Model of Care for Paediatric Healthcare Services in Ireland or in keeping with the Slainte- Future of Health Care Report (Sept 2017) and the prevention of the very serious complications for children and adolescents with diabetes. This post should allow 2.5 days per week allocated to the care of children and adolescents requiring diabetes/endocrinology support.


Diabetes Ireland is baffled as to why no paediatric endocrinologists which is necessary for a diabetes centre of excellence, had been applied for by the SAOLTA group given that there is a strategy to develop full diabetes centres of excellence in Sligo and Galway.


Diabetes Ireland is now seeking a further meeting the Saolta Management Group on all of these issues.

Mr Paul Gillespie, speaking after the meeting said “he was extremely disappointed over the lack of progress in addressing the serious crisis in Diabetes Care in Letterkenny University Hospital but would be following up all the relevant parties to ensure that the appropriate resources would be made available for diabetes services in Donegal”. Mr Joe McHugh TD added that there was need for clear lines of communication and action taken on all the points raised, which he and all Donegal representatives would pursue on behalf of the Diabetes Ireland Donegal branch.