The Health Service Executive has confirmed that new positions in the areas of cardiology, physiotherapy, respiratory and diabetes are at advance stage of recruitment for the Clare Chronic Disease Hub and that a significant expansion of services at the Ennis-based facility is planned over the coming months.

Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara says he has received confirmation of the plan from the HSE.

Based at the Primary Care Centre on the Station Road in Ennis, the Hub became operational in December 2022 and already has 10 WTE (Fulltime /Whole-time Equivalent) staff and disciplines in place with a further 11.7 WTE positions to be filled.

Deputy McNamara said half of the committed staff required to make the Hub fully operational are in place and that while he has been informed some grades of post are proving difficult to recruit, further appointments are expected in the coming weeks.

In response to a Parliamentary Question by Deputy McNamara on the services currently being provided in Ennis, the HSE confirmed that 10 WTE staff/disciplines are currently in post including an Operational Lead, Project Officer, administrative staff, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Respiratory, Senior Dietician, and a Clinical Specialist Podiatrist, Senior Podiatrist and Staff Grade podiatrist who are providing podiatry services to diabetic clients in the Hub and across Clare’s network of Health Centres.

Meanwhile, two Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) for Diabetes are providing community-based clinical advice and education services to Type II Diabetics in Ennis, Kilrush Health Centre and in GP Practices in West Clare.

“There is a number of other positions now filled that will further expand the quality and level of services provided from Ennis,” stated Deputy McNamara.  “A Senior Dietician was appointed last month and I have been informed that Diabetes Self-Management Education Services and one to one appointments are scheduled to commence this month, while a Consultant in Cardiology will greatly strengthen chronic disease cardiology services in Clare when they take up their position before the end of June.”

“Furthermore, a GP Respiratory Pilot Programme based in North Tipperary is planned to be rolled out in Clare by the end of March, Diabetes Self-Management Education Services and one-to-one appointments are planned to commence this month, a Diabetes Education workshop for Type II Diabetic is planned for March, and a Cardiology Pilot service in Limerick will extend to Clare in due course,” he added.

“Significantly for Clare, additional Chronic Disease Integrated Care Clinical and Diagnostic posts are being recruited for the Mid-West Region through the University Hospital Limerick Group, which will have a commitment to the Chronic Disease Hub and services in the county,” continued Deputy McNamara. “The posts include a Consultant in Respiratory Medicine with a Special Interest in Chronic Disease, and Cardiac and Respiratory Physiologists and administrative support. A Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist has already commenced and as a result, NTproBNP blood screening is now available to GPs across County Clare.”

“The commencement and planned expansion of operations at the Chronic Disease Hub will be welcomed by people across Clare who will now have easier access to a range of health services. Receiving healthcare in the community is an important step forward and I look forward to progress being made in reducing waiting lists, particularly in the areas of diabetes, physiotherapy, respiratory and cardiology treatment,” concluded Deputy McNamara.

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