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Crucial funding breakthrough for Mayo diabetics

Crucial funding breakthrough for Mayo diabetics

Edwin McGreal

Thousands of Mayo people who have diabetes will be able to receive a higher level of care if the appointment of a diabetes specialist at Mayo General Hospital is approved in the coming weeks.
The HSE confirmed to The Mayo News this week that funding has been approved for a consultant endocrinologist at Mayo General and that the appointment is ‘currently being progressed through the normal HSE approval process’.
An endocrinologist would remove the situation where diabetics in Mayo had no such expertise available, despite the fact that there is an endocrinologist in Sligo and Roscommon and as many as five in Galway.
Approximately five per cent of the population of Mayo have diabetes, in the region of 6,500. Of that approximate figure, 95 per cent have Type 2 diabetes (often attributed to diet problems and especially prevalent among older people), while five per cent have Type 1 diabetes (an auto-immune deficiency where the pancreas fails to produce insulin naturally and usually diagnosed in childhood years).
Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony has spoken on the issue in Dáil Eireann and is hopeful that the appointment will be pushed through.
“This appointment will be before the next meeting of a consultants appointments committee and I will be pushing for this to be approved there,” he told The Mayo News yesterday. “There was an imbalance and an injustice there for diabetics in Mayo when you compared it to other counties in Connacht and that caused great difficulty. I’ll be doing everything in my power to make sure it happens.”
The Mayo Parent Support Group of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland have lobbied for the provision of an endocrinologist at Mayo General. They felt the lack of an endocrinologist - who specialises in diabetes - compromised the level of care diabetics, especially Type 1 children, received.
Speaking after the announcement, Neil Masterson of the Parent Support Group welcomed the news but said they would have to wait and see what amount of time this specialist is able to give children in Mayo with Type 1 diabetes, who the Group have been lobbying on behalf of.
“What this endocrinologist is going to do is the $64,000 question,” he told The Mayo News. “It is good news and certainly a step in the right direction but we don’t know what exact work the endocrinologist is going to do. Will he or she work with adults only, children only? Will it concentrate on Type 1 or 2 diabetes?”
The optimum outcome for the Parent Support Group would be the ability of Mayo General to cater for the provision of insulin pumps, which regulates and injects insulin as the body needs it.
“If we were in a position whereby children in Mayo with Type 1 diabetes could be fitted with an insulin pump and that that could be monitored through the team at Mayo General, that would be brilliant” said Neil Masterson.
The potential for a centre of excellence for diabetes in the west was something brought up in the Dáil by John O’Mahony. The HSE established a national clinical programme for diabetes in 2010 with the aim of defining the way diabetic clinical services should be delivered, resourced and measured and no final report has been made yet.