Firm Commitments for North West Diabetes Services

Diabetes Ireland receive firm commitments for the development of North West diabetes services from Minister for Health, Simon Harris after a productive meeting


Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD met with representatives of Diabetes Ireland and its Donegal Branch who were seeking increased resources for HSE paediatric and adult diabetes services in the Northwest.


People with diabetes, specifically in Donegal, supported by all local TDs, had raised their concerns about the increasing number of patients attending diabetes services in Letterkenny and Sligo Hospitals and the need for more staff resources to provide patients, both young and old, with the service they richly deserve.


The Minister clarified that the vacant Consultant Paediatrician with Special Interest in Paediatric Diabetes post in Sligo University Hospital has been submitted to the HSE Consultant Applications Advisory Committee for approval and agreed that his Department would engage with the HSE to request that the approval and recruitment process for this post be expedited. As it is envisaged that it could take a further 6 months to fill this post, a locum consultant in the Saolta group with specialism in pump therapy has been appointed to provide interim care in both Letterkenny and Sligo for paediatric pump therapy. This consultant would also prioritise the backlog of 18 children who were diagnosed with Type I Diabetes under the age of 6, and are awaiting ‘insulin pump starts’.


The delegation again raised the issue of no centre of excellence anywhere in Saolta group. Minster Harris acknowledged the progress that has been made to build a new Diabetes Centre at Sligo University Hospital, but the completion of this is over a year away. While this was warmly welcomed by Diabetes Ireland, Dr Anna Clarke highlighted the need to ensure that a full diabetes team was required to ensure a high quality service was provided to the local diabetes community. The Donegal delegation presented a document to show the much higher figures of children attending Letterkenny University hospital and as the hospital hde already developed the gate house building solely for diabetes care, proposed that the Centre of Excellence should be a shared centre between Letterkenny and Sligo. It was agreed that this proposal would be considered and feasibility of a shared centre explored.


The delegation welcomed the news that an Advanced Nurse Practitioner post (ANP) in paediatric diabetes, is being developed and added to the current paediatric diabetes staff in LUH and this ANP would also focus on Pump Therapy care to support the Consultant.


The Minister informed Diabetes Ireland representatives that the Saolta Group had applied for

approval of a new Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) post for the diabetes services in Letterkenny

University Hospital as part of the Estimates Process for 2018.  In addition, the Group has also applied

for two new psychologist posts across the Group.  The Minister agreed to support Saolta’s

application for these new posts in the Estimates Process 2018.


The Minister also agreed that his Department would engage with the HSE to request that the approval and recruitment process for a second Adult Consultant Endocrinologist be expedited for Letterkenny University Hospital and will be submitted by the Saolta University Healthcare Group as a matter of urgency. The delegation suggested that an ANP in Adult Diabetes care is vital to assist the proposed two consultants in trying to reduce the recall visit waiting times from the current 24 months, down to the best practise guideline for adults of 4 months appointments.


The delegation highlighted the fact that teenagers who currently have four paediatric consultant appointments a year would see this go out to 1 appointment every 2 years when they transition to local adults diabetes services which is unacceptable, but hoped that the addition of the second endocrinologist along with support staff and the addition of an ANP, could improve these recall appointment times.


Mr Paul Gillespie, spokesperson for the Diabetes Ireland Donegal branch in broadly welcoming these commitments from the Minister for Health said “We are delighted that the Minister has listened to our points and that he has planned to take speedy action ahead of another meeting in September. However, already we are seeing delays in relation to the construction of the Diabetes Centre in Sligo Hospital so we highlighted to Minister Harris that a suitable facility already exists at Letterkenny University Hospital through which a Shared Centre of Excellence based in both in Sligo Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital could be developed. Overall, we found the Minister very receptive to our concerns and we will now wait to see how quickly these posts are filled”.