Mayo County Council heard yesterday about the pre-election campaign that has been launched by Arthritis Ireland calling on the next government to commit to appointing 100 additional specialist rheumatology posts within the first 100 days of government.
The “Why Are We Waiting” campaign highlights the fact that over 12,600 people – including 455 children- are currently waiting in pain to see a rheumatology consultant. The situation in the West/North West hospital area is particularly stark. Here, people with suspected arthritis can wait up to 18 months for a diagnosis and then have to face the prospect of lengthy journeys to Galway or Leitrim to attend the rheumatology clinics there. John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland said: “ A delay in diagnosing inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can result in irreversible damage in the joints, leading to long term disability. Absence due to arthritis already costs the State €295m in illness benefits each year. By putting these 100 posts in place, the next government will ensure people get timely treatment that will enable them to stay active and ultimately save millions of euro”.
The Mayo branch of Arthritis Ireland has been campaigning for over 20 years for the creation of a rheumatology unit in Mayo General hospital. Stacey Grealis, a longstanding member of the branch, welcomes the forthcoming appointment of an extra rheumatology consultant in Manorhamilton rheumatology clinic which will enable an outpatient’s clinic in Mayo General once a week: “We are delighted that this post has finally been appointed however one person is simply not enough. We need a specialist team in Mayo General that will ensure that people do not have to travel up to 6 hours round trip to Galway for infusions and other treatments”.
Arthritis Ireland today stressed to Mayo County Council that people in chronic pain cannot wait any longer. They asked the Council to show their support for the 100 additional posts by becoming Arthritis Champions. The Council received the proposal favourably and posed for a photograph holding “I’m an #ArthtitisChampion” cards. “Stacey Grealis said: “It is a proud day for over 26,000 people living with arthritis in Mayo to see the Council support our plan. We would now like everyone in the county to ask their local candidates to become an #ArthritisChampion”.