1.12.2015: Press Release Government Strategy on Rehabilitation Delivers Nothing

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Press Release: For Immediate Release

Tuesday 1st December

Government Strategy on Rehabilitation Delivers Nothing

2011-2015 Implementation period ends without even an implementation plan being published .

National voluntary organisations representing the 25,000 people with neurological conditions needing rehabilitation services expressed their bitter disappointment today as the implementation period for the Government's national neurorehabilitation strategy comes to an end with no progress being made, an implementation plan promised in 2013 has not even been published. Neurorehabilitation services are essential to support recovery and prevent disability for people living with acquired brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and a range of other neurological conditions. The thousands of Irish people who still cannot get the rehabilitation they need when they need it face a lifetime of unnecessary disability which can prevent them returning to work and regaining their independence.

The National Policy and Strategy for the Provision of Neurorehabilitation Services was published in December 2011 with a three year implementation perod 2011-2015.

The Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), the national umbrella representing over thirty neurological charities joined by other national organisations are calling on political parties to commit to the development of neurorehabilitation services in the run up to next year's general election.

Speaking today, Mags Rogers, Development Manager with the NAI "We have seriously underdeveloped rehabilitation services in this country which condemn people to live with unnecessary disability. It is completely unacceptable that no progress has been made after three years, it is a catalogue of delays and U turns and we still don't even have an implementation plan".

Alexis Donnelly, a person with MS and patient advocate who was part of the national working group that developed the strategy said " I have had to travel abroad to get the rehabilitation I need because of a lack of services here. Not only do we not have a plan, we are actually going backwards in cutting existing services. People with neurological conditions and their families nationwide will make this an issue in the upcoming election in each and every constituency".

Barbara O'Connell, CEO of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said that "This voiceless group are being denied their very basic rights; neurorehabilitation is a right not a luxury, it is an essential part of the person with acquired brain injury and their family being able to adpat, regain skills and supported to return to meaningful lives in their communities".

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation said "More people than ever are surviving stroke thanks to improvements in acute services. But they are then being effectively abandoned because of the abject failure to develop rehabilitation services in the community. Their lives are being saved, but their quality of life is being squandered even though it costs the State more not to provide these services".

Caroline Dooley Martin of PSPA Ireland said "A critical part of the healthcare system is missing. Once again people with neurological healthcare needs join the forgotten people of Ireland. If we truly care for these people we need to open our eyes now, see the real person behind the disease and address this human neglect now. When diagnosed with a rare neurological illness, quality of life is all you have-we are denied this in the present system".

Ava Battles, CEO of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland said "It is extremely disappointing that no action has been taken to implement the neurorehabilitation strategy. Without access to vital neurorehabilitation services, people with MS face deterioration of their condition and loss of independence which, with the right supports, could be prevented or delayed. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that the financial costs of MS increase steeply as the illness progresses, therefore it is in the interests of wider society to take action to provide timely interventions that reduce the impact of MS".


All press queries to Mags Rogers Neurological Alliance of Ireland 086 1216957


Additional Information

The National Policy and Strategy for Neurorehabilitation Services in Ireland 2011-2015 was published by the Department of Health and HSE in December 2011. A joint HSE/DOH working group was established in 2013 tasked with the development of an implementation plan. The HSE committed to releasing a draft implementation plan for consultation in December 2015, at the end of the three year implementation period for the strategy. The NAI understands that this plan will now not be released for consultation until 2016.

The Neurological Alliance of Ireland is the national organisation representing over thirty neurological charities. It works to promote the development of services for all those living with neurological conditions and their families through advocacy, awareness raising and contributing to the development of policy.

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