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Councillor Johnny Flynn: “In Ennis, like all large Irish towns, sometimes there can be a small element who negatively affect how people enjoy the  town centre.”

Lack of diabetic supports putting Clare people at risk

THOSE living with diabetes are at serious risk of life-altering complications due to delays in recruiting specialists in the Midwest, a meeting of the Council has heard.

A joint motion from Councillors Johnny Flynn, Mary Howard and PJ Kelly called on the authority to intervene with the Minister for Health over several posts approved a year ago. 

“I’m a diabetic for nearly 20 years myself,” Councillor Flynn told the meeting. “I’m a Type One diabetic, which means I’m insulin-dependent. This isn’t a criticism of the excellent diabetic clinic that is managed and run in Ennis. It’s in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) the problem is.” 

The Fine Gael member outlined how programmes offering support with diet and insulin pumps are offered elsewhere in the country, but not by the University of Limerick Hospitals Group (ULHG).

“The effect of the low level of staffing is that 663 people with diabetes from Clare and Limerick are waiting on specialist treatment, with half of those waiting over the course of two to six years. So, it’s having a huge impact on subsequent admissions to the hospital, because of the lack of quality of care for people. For example, Limerick Hospital is second highest in the country with regard to diabetic-connected amputations.”

Councillor Flynn noted that Councillor Cillian Murphy had recently tabled a similar motion before the HSE’s Regional Health Forum, underlining the seriousness of the situation. 

Councillor Mary Howard noted that she had raised the issue in 2019. “When you invest in diabetes, there’s both in staffing and education, and you will reduce the cost of preventable diabetes complications, like the amputations and trying to regulate people’s blood sugar,” she said.

“I think it’s time to the minister did actually get involved because this is going on too long. We have a lot of people here that are living with diabetes trying to manage this and something needs to be done at this stage. We’re pretty much the same space we were in two years ago.”

Councillor Donna McGettigan described the motion as “fantastic”. She said her own family had personal experience of the issue. “It’s just so frustrating to see the damage that has been done to their bodies while they’re waiting,” she said. “It is unbelievable.”

Councillor Murphy then outlined the response he had recently received from the regional forum.

“It was that lots of things are ongoing and that ‘we’re in advanced stages’,” he said. “So I have actually sent a follow-up asking for specifics. I’m asking for details of how advanced things are, as a percentage, on a line of progress. Are we at 50% or 80%? So once I get it, I’ll forward ye on that response from the Regional Health Forum.”

Summing up, Councillor Flynn thanked his colleagues for their support. “Hopefully, we will get a reaction from the Minister to try and push this forward,” he said.

He also thanked Councillor Murphy for the work he is doing on the issue, and for pledging to keep members of the Council updated. 

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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