Commitments on delivery of neurorehabilitation teams ‘being impacted by delays’, committee told

Last May, the HSE appeared before the committee and said teams in four Community Healthcare Organisations would be ‘fully functional by early 2024′

Just two neurorehabilitation teams are currently up and running nationwide, despite commitments for a further four to have been opened earlier this year, politicians have been told.

The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), an umbrella group representing 30 neurological charities, also said there are “regional inequities” in terms of access to neurological healthcare in the State.

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee on Wednesday, Magdalen Rogers executive director of NAI, said commitments on the delivery of these teams are “being impacted by delays”.

Last May, the HSE appeared before the committee and said teams in four Community Healthcare Organisations would be “fully functional by early 2024″. These teams are multidisciplinary, and seek to provide the appropriate continuum of care for people with neurological conditions outside of hospitals.


Ms Rogers said: “A full year on, we still have the same situation we outlined to the committee this time last year where only two of nine teams are up and running nationwide.”

“The teams that are up and running precede the 2019 implementation plan”, she said, adding that the teams that do exist are “not full teams”.

It is recommended that each team has 12 whole-time equivalent staff levels, but one has three, while the other has seven, she said.

The NAI also highlighted challenges for people in Mayo requiring a neurological consultant, stating neurological care is almost “non-existent” in this region.

Ms Rogers said one in four neurological referrals in Galway hospital are from Mayo, but the hospital “doesn’t have the resources to provide outreach in Mayo hospital”.

“Mayo is an outlier in that regard. There would be even smaller hospitals that would have neurology outreach, but Mayo doesn’t,” she said.

As a result, these patients have to travel for appointments, often a 150km round trip.

“I think it’s very important to remember with neurological conditions it’s not six months or one year, we have people for 20 or 30 years they have to travel a number of times a year [for appointments],” she added.

The NAI also said they are aware of people in northern countries travelling to Northern Ireland to get neurologist care.

According to the organisation, some 50,000 people are diagnosed with a neurological condition each year.

Over 860,000 people throughout Ireland are currently living with a neurological condition and that number is set to increase significantly with our growing and ageing population.

They added: “Unfortunately, while we have seen significant investment over the past three years to implement national strategies for neurology and neurorehabilitation, this legacy of progress is at serious risk of being undermined by the ongoing recruitment moratorium and delays in delivering on commitments that have been made to people with neurological conditions, their families and communities throughout this country.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times