Chronic Disease Team to be established in Clare

Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara has received confirmation from the HSE that a new Chronic Disease Management Hub delivering services to patients with cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and Type II Diabetes is being rolled out in County Clare.

The HSE confirmed the news to Deputy McNamara in response to his Parliamentary Questions about lengthy waiting lists for podiatry services in County Clare. There are currently 542 patients waiting to be called for their first appointment and 3,461 patients on the active database in County Clare.

In a written response to Deputy McNamara, the Head of Service for HSE Primary Care Services confirmed 20 full-time specialist roles are to be assigned to the Chronic Disease Team in Clare. Based at the new Primary Care Centre on the Station Road in Ennis, services will be provided on a “hub and spoke model” across Clare.

The positions include Specialist, Senior and Staff Grade Podiatrists; Senior and Staff Grade Dieticians; Diabetic Clinical Nurse Specialists; Clinical Specialist; Senior and Staff grade Physiotherapists; Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialists; Cardiology Clinical Nurse Specialists; Staff Nurse; Staff Grade Clinical Psychologist; and Managerial and Administrative support.

Deputy McNamara said the delivery of the new service will greatly reduce waiting times for patients suffering with chronic diseases.

The Clare TD continued, “I welcome the fact that recruitment is already underway for all grades of staff with one staff member currently in post, the Chronic Disease Lead. The HSE is also at an advantaged stage of recruitment of six posts. A second recruitment campaign is underway for Senior Physiotherapists and Clinical Nurse Specialists and the HSE has informed that it is about to launch a second campaign for all Grades of Podiatrists.”

“While based out of the new Primary Care facility in Ennis, which the HSE confirmed to me will become operational in the Quarter 3 of this year, there will be a strong focus on delivering a range of services on an outreach basis across the county, including Cardiac Rehabilitation, Pulmonary Rehabilitation; Diabetes Self-Management Education; and Diagnostic Services by specialist community teams,” stated Deputy McNamara.

He added, “The teams also will work and support their colleagues in general practice, primary care and secondary care to develop and implement ambulatory care pathways to prevent and manage complex chronic diseases, such as Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Asthma, Type II Diabetes, and Cardiovascular disease.”

Deputy McNamara said he hoped the establishment of a new Chronic Disease Management Hub in Clare would lead to a dramatic reduction in the significant number of patients waiting for a podiatry appointment in Clare.

“There currently is only two Senior Podiatrists and one Staff Grade Podiatrist delivering podiatry services in Clare where there are 3,461 patients on the active database and 542 patients waiting to be called for the first appointment,” explained Deputy McNamara. “The HSE says the government restrictions and Infection Prevention Control guidelines introduced during the pandemic had an impact on their capacity to see non-urgent cases what has resulted in the waiting list backlog. I look forward to a significant reduction in the waiting times for podiatry services with the establishment of the new Chronic Disease services in the county.“

In its response to Deputy McNamara’s Parliamentary Question, the HSE stated, “It is difficult to say when the full Chronic Disease Team in Clare will be in place as some grades of posts are extremely difficult to recruit. It is estimated that the full roll out if the Chronic Disease service across the country will take approximately three years.”

Meanwhile, the HSE has confirmed to Deputy McNamara that a number of additional chronic disease specialist positions are being recruited for the Midwest region.

“In addition to the specialist position being assigned to Chronic Disease Services in Clare, the HSE has informed me that additional Clinical and Diagnostic Chronic Disease posts are being recruited through the University Hospital Limerick Group. The posts include a Consultant in Respiratory Medicine with a Special Interest in Chronic Disease, a Consultant in Cardiology with a Special Interest in Chronic Disease Respiratory, and Cardiac Physiologists with administrative support,” stated Deputy McNamara.

“I would hope the HSE expedites the filling of these positions so that the extensive waiting lists across Clare and the wider region for chronic disease services are reduced. It is also important that patients can receive these services closer to home without the need for travelling long distances,” he concluded.