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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Insulin pump therapy for children put on hold for six months at Crumlin hospital

The absence of two nurses means another two have to be trained in on the treatment.

Image: insulin pump via Shutterstock

PARENTS OF CHILDREN with diabetes have expressed frustration over the suspension of insulin pump therapy at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Three nurses are required to operate the service, but the hospital said there has been an “unprecedented absence” of two them.

Dr Stephen O’Riordan, clinical lead in Paediatric Diabetes at the hospital, said this shortage of nurses is a crisis.

“Mainstay”

“Crumlin has been the mainstay of pump therapy nationally for decades,” he explained.

“If these centres are not adequately staffed, then any other National initiatives will not succeed.”

Diabetes Ireland has described the case of one of the children receiving treatment:

The Mulready family planned their year so that their son Darragh could get his pump on July 22nd and be able to self-manage his diabetes for returning to school in September.His mother Trish says “Darragh was devastated that his pump is sitting in a press gathering dust instead of been fitted to him making his life that bit more normal and helping keep his blood glucose levels a lot more stable”.

The organisation said that the suspension is causing “great distress to the 600 families attending OLCH who are living 24 hours a day with Type 1 diabetes”.

Dr Anna Clarke said that it could result in an increased workload on higher paid staff, in turn resulting in more costs.

Conventional therapy

The hospital stressed that patients currently awaiting pump therapy are instead being supported on conventional insulin therapy plans.

“One [nurse] has been replaced and one is in the process of being replaced,” a spokesperson for the hospital said, but it may take up to six months for the nurses to be become proficient in the therapy.

One parent of a child due to receive the treatment said this latest delay adds to the two years they have been waiting for the treatment.

“They keep moving the goalposts when it comes to her blood-sugar levels,” the mother told TheJournal.ie, “We’re being told the same things all the time. We have to make a seven-hour round-trip to the hospital just to be told we have to come back again in six months.”

“Two years”

“This has been going on for two years now. We also understood that we had been on the waiting list this entire time, but they only said during the last visit that [my daughter] has only just been added to it.”

She added that they “haven’t heard anything” about the service being suspended while training took place.

At present, one-in-20 people has diabetes in Ireland, while one-in-eight of people over 60 has diabetes.

There are between 3,000 and 4,000 children, adolescents and young adults living with diabetes in Ireland, Diabetes Ireland explains on its website.

Read: Portable insulin pumps prove better than insulin injections for type 2 diabetes >

More: ‘I went to look at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t see my face’ >

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