Significant drop in numbers waiting for Podiatry Services in Clare

The number of diabetes patients on the waiting list for Community Podiatry Services in County Clare has dropped by 79% since the beginning of the year.

In a response to Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara, the Primary Care Office of the HSE Mid-West confirmed that the numbers waiting has dropped significantly from a total of 2,221 in January 2023 to 466 patients.

Deputy McNamara, who has repeatedly called for greater investment in community podiatry services, said he welcomed the decrease and urged the HSE to maintain efforts to fill up to 15 vacant posts in Community and Chronic Disease Teams across the region.

He said, “HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare has made significant inroads in to reducing excessive waiting times for diabetes patients across Clare. This was largely achieved when a waiting list validation exercise was carried out by the HSE and resulted in duplicate referrals and those patients no longer requiring service being removed from the list, and a greater emphasis being placed on those waiting over a year for a service. Student Podiatrists on placement were also involved in addressing the wait times for patients.”

However, Deputy McNamara has expressed concern that additional Podiatrists and support staff are required in County Clare to further reduce the waiting list and ensure that overall waiting times are minimised.

The HSE confirmed there is currently one Senior Podiatrist and two Staff Grade Podiatrists providing Community Podiatry Services in Clare. It also said that one Senior Podiatrist and one Staff Grade Podiatrist from the Chronic Disease Team (who also cover Limerick City and County) have been concentrating on the Diabetes population in Clare as the number of Diabetes patients awaiting services have been very high.

“The full complement of staff for Podiatry Services across the two Community and Chronic Disease Teams in the HSE Mid-West area is 22 WTE but, despite several recruitment campaigns there has been very little success in backfilling 15 vacant posts with suitably qualified clinicians. This is a concern in the context of making further progress in reducing waiting times,” stated Deputy McNamara.

“It is reassuring that the HSE is prioritising patients who are most at risk of foot ulceration and at risk of admission to hospital, but the ongoing situation whereby Community Podiatrists and those attached to the Chronic Disease Teams have been providing cross cover across the wider region will not be sustainable in the medium to long term,” he concluded.

The number of Clare patients (age) awaiting access to Community Podiatry Services currently stands at 6 (0-4), 28 (5-17), 159 (18-64) and 273 (65+).