10 Years of Empty Promises as Successive Governments Fail to Invest in Rehabilitation Services
Mansion House, Dublin: Organisations representing people with neurological organisations are calling on the new Government to tackle the critical lack of rehabilitation services in Ireland.
The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), the national umbrella for neurological not for profit organisations, has teamed up with fifteen of its member groups representing conditions such as stroke, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease to launch a nationwide campaign entitled “We Need Our Heads Examined”. The campaign is calling on the government to take action and prioritise the urgent need for neuro-rehabilitation services, for the 25,000 people each year who need them.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign was Professor Mark Delargy, Clinical Director at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, he said “Rehabilitation services in Ireland are completely underdeveloped, not everyone who needs to can access vital specialist rehabilitation in a hospital setting, and when they are discharged they often receive little or no additional supports in the community. For many there is no other option than to be inappropriately placed in a nursing home with little chance of gaining any independence”.
Ten years of empty promises have seen no investment in services, despite the publication of a National Neuro-rehabilitation Strategy in 2011. Since then nothing had been done and no progression made.
Reinhard Schaler, a father whose son Padraig suffered an acquired brain injury (ABI) in a road traffic accident, and was forced to travel to Germany for treatment said, “We are condemning people with acquired brain injuries to a future of neglect, disability and lost opportunity. We cannot continue to deny access to vital services and we can no longer be expected to travel overseas to avail of them. The intervention period is crucial for a neurological condition, yet due to the lack of neuro-rehabilitation services in Ireland this ‘intervention period’ is a loss for many”.
Also speaking at the launch was Alexis Donnelly, a person living with MS for over twenty-five years who has known a lifetime of inadequate services. He said “Ten years of inaction has brought about extraordinary despair for so many of us. People living with a neurological condition cannot just be left to deteriorate and told the health system won’t provide for them. We need access to a range of quality services and supports to enhance our quality of life and well-being. This is not just bad healthcare it is bad economics”.
The NAI and its member organisations are calling on the government to overcome a decade of broken promises and honour their commitment to publish an implementation plan for the National Neuro-rehabilitation Strategy; dedicate investment to the development of new services from hospital to home, for those living with a neurological condition.
The campaign ‘We Need Our Heads Examined’ launched in the Mansion house today. For more information or to support this campaign see www.nai.ie or tweet #Rehab4Ireland @nai_ireland
Campaign Member groups
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland www.abiireland.ie
Ataxia Ireland www.www.ataxia.ie
Chronic Pain Ireland www.chronicpain.ie
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland www.ms-society.ie
The Rehab Group www.rehab.ie
Parkinson’s Association of Ireland www.parkinsons.ie
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland www.alzheimer.ie
Irish Heart Foundation www.irishheart.ie
PSPA Ireland www.pspaireland.ie
Huntington’s Disease Association of Ireland www.huntingtons.ie
Brain Tumour Ireland www.braintumourireland.com
Enable Ireland www.enableireland.ie
Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland www.sbhi.ie
Muscular Dystrophy Ireland www.mdi.ie