CUH slammed on epilepsy unit

The support group for people with epilepsy has criticised Cork University Hospital (CUH) for failing to develop epilepsy services.

Epilepsy Ireland has expressed anger and disappointment at CUH's ongoing failure to honour commitments made to develop its epilepsy services and claims the hospital has diverted funds intended for a new epilepsy unit elsewhere.

Under the HSE's National Epilepsy Clinical Care programme, CUH was to get for a state-of-the-art epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU).

The unit was fitted in 2012 at a cost of €500,000 but has been unable to receive patients as the recruitment of the nurses and technicians required to operate the unit was commenced but not finished, Epilepsy Ireland said.

It says CUH is blaming the HSE recruitment embargo for the failure to open the Unit, despite commitments given by Minister James Reilly and the HSE to Epilepsy Ireland in April 2013 that the unit would open this summer.

Epilepsy Ireland CEO Mike Glynn said said earmarked funds were provided to the CUH specifically for the purpose of recruiting staff to open the unit.

"The funding is not intended for any other purpose within the hospital's service but CUH has taken the liberty of using the funding elsewhere, which is outrageous."

Mr Glynn said there were 100 people with highly complex and uncontrolled epilepsy awaiting admission to the Cork unit.

"These people are suffering unnecessarily in the face of another broken promise by their public health service. As their representative organisation, Epilepsy Ireland calls on CUH to give a written commitment that the funding for the recruitment of nurses and technicians to staff the unit is safe and in the HSE Service Plan for the hospital and to provide a date for when the unit will be opened for patients in early 2014."

Epilepsy monitoring is required for patients with highly complex and often treatment-resistant epilepsy who experience frequent, debilitating seizures.

Epilepsy Ireland says a monitoring unit offers a safe environment to record and study the seizures to aid in diagnosis and to identify patients suitable for surgery. Up to 30% of the 37,000 people with epilepsy in Ireland fall into this category.

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[Posted: Mon 16/12/2013]

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