Dozens of parents and children staged a protest outside Cork University Hospital yesterday to highlight the lack of a vital children’s service in the region.
Endocrinology services encompass a wide range of illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid cancer, Addison’s disease, and Cushing’s syndrome. At present, CUH has just one full-time paediatric endocrinologist who caters for diabetic children and those with other endocrinology needs, after the other retired in 2017.
There are currently more than 200 children awaiting these services in CUH and almost 30 of these have been waiting more than a year to be seen.
Rosalyn Buckley told The Echo that her son Daniel (12), who suffers from type 1 diabetes, has not seen a consultant endocrinologist for almost two years since the retirement at CUH.
According to best practice, children with type 1 diabetes should be seen every four months. Around 400 children with the condition aim to attend CUH regularly, according to Diabetes Ireland.
Rosalyn said that the protest started as a way to highlight the lack of services for diabetic children, but the protest grew to include families of children with other illnesses.
“We’re trying to highlight the need for this service through a wide range of issues,” said Rosalyn. “It’s so important for children to be able to access this service in a timely way; their life expectancy can actually be lessened by 10 years if they don’t have these services.
“It’s very sad to see parents and children being forced into the street to protest today, it shouldn’t have to happen.”
Rosalyn revealed that Daniel was told in December that he would be seen by a consultant endocrinologist in June of this year.
“We then got a letter in April saying the appointment was cancelled indefinitely with no reason outlined,” she said. “We don’t know what’s happening in there or if they’re even trying to recruit another consultant.”
A CUH spokesperson said it has recruited a locum consultant paediatrician and interviews have taken place for the permanent position.
“In the short-term, this permanent post will be filled,” she added.