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Prof Hardiman will take over from Prof Tim Lynch, Consultant Neurologist at the Mater and Beaumont hospitals.
In a document outlining her vision for the role, seen by MI, Prof Hardiman stated the absence of true patient-centred care is the most significant challenge facing neurological services, with unacceptable delays and high costs involved in accessing care.
She said there is a “perverse incentive” towards providing hospital-based care, and poor integration between the hospital and community services
Prof Hardiman’s priorities in the role are to: Address neurology waiting lists; adequately resource multidisciplinary teams (MDT) for neurology outpatient services; provide timely access to appropriate inpatient neurology in all neurology centres, and ensure appropriate and timely discharge.
Another priority is full implementation of the all-island deep brain stimulation service.
In terms of reducing waiting lists, Prof Hardiman said outreach services must be provided, in addition to the development of telemedicine programmes and the provision of phone-based follow-up consultations.
She added the role of group clinics should be examined and that more voluntary sector engagement should be sought.
Prof Hardiman also referred to developing an algorithmic management plan for common complaints and IT-based follow up of necessary investigations.
Regarding MDTs, Prof Hardiman recommended there should be integrated care plans for common disorders, which would include an “exploration of the epilepsy model” for migraine and related disorders.
There needs to be appropriate MDT resourcing across all neurology centres to include specialist nursing, neuropsychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other key posts, according to Prof Hardiman.
Her plan recommends the development of essential multiple sclerosis diagnosis and management services in all neurology centres, as well the recognition and development of regional and national specialist centres for rare conditions, such as muscular dystrophy in Cork, and sleep and narcolepsy in St James’s Hospital, Dublin.
The development and resourcing of neurology day units to facilitate ambulatory neurology was also outlined, as was the need to facilitate rapid access to essential patient diagnostics.
Prof Hardiman has accepted the letter of offer from the HSE but has yet to officially begin the role.
She is speaking today at the Annual Neurology Update Meeting, hosted in Dublin by the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience (IICN). Full conference coverage will be published in an upcoming edition of MI.