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Consultant Rheumatologist at CUH, Dr Sinead Harney, told the Medical Independent (MI) that “our public patients are waiting up to nine months to get an infusion”, when this care should be accessed at six months. “We are now stretching out to nine months of the year for six-month infusions, so we are on the verge of clinical risk and potentially leaving ourselves open to risk,” she told MI.
The required infusions mostly relate to patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
The standard of infrastructure for rheumatology care varies across units, according to Dr Harney, who considered Cork as “probably the worst part of the country” in this respect.
At CUH, lack of infrastructure to undertake day cases is causing huge problems in terms of patient care, she added.
“In CUH, we have a prefab that was funded by industry and other than that, we have no physical footprint in the hospital,” Dr Harney said.
Insofar as possible, patients with private health insurance who had been attending CUH and required infusions have been referred to private hospitals in the area, she stated.
Also, Dr Harney argued that service deficits are impacting on the retention of trainees, as is the new-entrant consultant salary.
“Some who have gone to the UK, who I thought would come back, haven’t for that reason [of the new-entrant consultant salary]. And then they see how hard we have to work just to get slots for our patients to come in, and we do have to admit people overnight. We wasted 100 bed-days here last year by having to admit people because we couldn’t get them day beds, so lack of day beds is critical in CUH.”
This issue is being pursued with CUH management, she confirmed.
At press time, a comment was awaited from the South/South West Hospital Group.