Action needed

The following was put together by Pádraig’s parents. No more strategies, no more white papers, no more bailing out of the state’s duty of care for its most vulnerable citizens.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and do it.

Here are three simple steps of action.

1. The Department of Health and the consultants in charge of looking after patients with acquired brain injury (ABI) must recognize that “this broken health system” (Minister Reilly) is not delivering the early neurological rehabilitation treatment needed by ABI patients when they need it – despite the fact that they have a right to this treatment under a variety of human rights and European declarations, conventions, and laws. None of the current plans and strategies will change this. – On 10 March in a letter to the family, and on 26 March in an answer to a question put to him in the Dáil, the Taoiseach promised to get the Department of Health to contact the family “without delay”. (Almost three weeks later, this has not happened.)

2. According to the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, “there is an urgent need for immediate investment by government in post acute rehabilitation services and rehabilitation services across the spectrum of services to provide timely and equitable rehabilitation for those patients with complex disabilities and their carers or families all over Ireland.” This need should be addressed immediately by a pilot facility to be set up in 2014, followed by a permanent central facility in 2015, with satellite facilities across the country being established in 2016. The Department of Health and the HSE should finance and support such a development.

3. We are more than willing to get involved and drive such a development, together with other families and ABI patients. Having experienced, and suffered, the current system, there is no one more motivated, experienced and knowledgable to make this happen with the support of enthusiastic medical staff and advocacy organisations in the field. Mentorship partnerships should be established with world-leading health professionals and existing facilities abroad, such as the Therapiezentrum Burgau, established in 1988 by the German Entrepreneur Max Schuster when he could not find an existing early and intensive specialized rehabilitation clinic for his daughter who had acquired a severe brain injury in a traffic accident. Today, this initiative provides adequate, comprehensive, and close-to-home care for brain injured patients all over Bavaria (Germany), with 700 beds distributed across the different regions of the federal state of Bavaria.

“It is time for change. It is time for a revolution in rehabilitation.” Not our words but those of the person appointed by the Government of Ireland and the HSE as the National Director of Clinical Strategy and Programmes, Dr Áine Carroll (Irish Examiner, 03.02.2011).

Let’s roll up our sleeves and do it.

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