Neurological care facilities insufficient
on 21/02/2013 00:00:00
The study of people living with the effects of conditions such as acquired brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and motor neuron disease revealed that 71% could not access any neuropsychology services, while physiotherapy and speech and language therapy was either inadequate or not available for 68% of sufferers.
The survey also revealed:
*80% could not access adequate residential or day services;
*78% could not get proper counselling services.
*More than half had no access to training or employment support;
*Over three quarters could not get enough information or advice on how to access services or what their benefit entitlements were;
*76% could not access adequate occupational therapy services.
The Neurological Alliance of Ireland, the umbrella group for the country's neurological charities, launched its neuro-rehabilitation manifesto in Dublin yesterday, demanding a proper and effective level of support for those with neurological disorders.
While the NAI expected a certain level of unmet need, they were surprised that numbers of people who needed assistance but were unable to find it.
"The survey revealed very high numbers of people who were unable to access either physiological or psychological services in their local area," said NAI development manager Mags Rogers. "The sheer volume involved took us by surprise. We were expecting these kind of results but were surprised at the numbers involved."
HSE figures show that around 15,000 people with neurological conditions in Ireland need to access either physiological or psychological services every year.
"It is hugely important," said Ms Rogers. "It can mean recovering from injury in a car crash, for example, or being able to maintain a certain level of functioning for those with chronic conditions like MS."
NAI chairman Chris Macey said even if improvements sought were implemented, Ireland would still be second from the bottom in Europe, after the UK.
"For example, we currently have seven consultants to serve specialist neurorehabilitation needs across the whole country," said Mr Macey.
"But even if we had 50, we would still have the lowest number per capita in Europe with the exception of the UK. And if it increased to 150, we would still be behind countries like Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia."
Principal clinical neuropsychologist at Beaumont Hospital, Niall Pender, said patients missing out on vital psychological treatment are suffering unnecessarily "and this will have a serious impact on their functional ability, employment possibilities and education".