Liz Murphy has had Type 1 diabetes since she was a child but has managed to live a normal life and incorporate her condition into her daily routine.
However, she is passionately campaigning for better supports for diabetics at UHW.
In her attempt to secure a place on a DAFNE carb counting course (which is currently not available at UHW), Liz, who is a public patient for diabetes services, says she is being “passed from pillar to post”.
In a reply to Deputy Bobby Aylward (FF) following a Parliamentary Question on the issue, Richard Dooley, UHW General Manager, said: “At present University Hospital Waterford does not offer this service to adult diabetic patients. All of the patients referred to St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny have to be accepted for their total diabetic care by the consultant there. At present there are three patients requesting this service who are attending University Hospital Waterford.”
However, Liz Murphy said she did try and get referred to St Luke’s late last year for her diabetes care – however she was referred back to UHW.
“I feel like I’ve been left in limbo,” she said.
“And I am having difficulty in understanding why Richard Dooley would be looking to transfer three Type 1 patients to Kilkenny, when there is a National Clinical Programme for Diabetes review currently being undertaken and a survey of diabetes acute care service in UHW. Surely the more patients that need the service in Waterford, the better chance they have of getting a better service for us?”
Another recent reply to a Parliamentary Question on the issue which was received by Deputy Mary Butler (FF) from Ireland East Hospital Group said there is “no reason why this service cannot be provided in UHW if staff are facilitated to access this training”.
The letter stated that “St Luke’s General Hospital Kilkenny does not routinely provide general acute services to patients outside of the catchment area particularly when such a service should routinely be available in UHW. The normal mode of referral to the diabetic service in St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny is via a patient’s GP practitioner or direct referral from an external consultant.”
Liz Murphy is also questioning why she should have to transfer all of her diabetic care elsewhere just to secure a place on a DAFNE course.
“I have a list of the hospitals that offer the DAFNE carbohydrate course in Ireland and have tried calling a few to establish if they take people just to do the course or if patients have to be transferred from their hospital to a new hospital, as Richard Dooley’s response is suggesting that all of our care would need to go to Kilkenny if we are referred there,” she said.
She says she is also aware of a number of private patients who have attended UHW but have had to avail of a DAFNE course elsewhere.
She fears that the level of diabetes care currently being offered at UHW is indicative of the “downgrading” of UHW.
As part of her campaign to obtain greater services for diabetics at UHW, she is also highlighting the connections between diabetic care and the ongoing campaign to obtain improved cardiac care services.
“It really is a no brainer,” she said.
“Give us diabetics the education and help with our disease early and then the need to access the health service in later years will possibly decrease, thus saving costs to the exchequer.”
She added: “I do appreciate the associated costs involved in providing a better service here, but at present there is not one adult diabetes dietitian here in Waterford which is paramount to the care of people with diabetes, and a normal dietitian cannot provide the same service as a diabetes dietitian.”
As there is no diabetes dietician at UHW, she says had pay to see a professional in the Mater Private Hospital which she can “ill afford”.
“But my health is my wealth and I am looking after my long term health care into the future by doing this,” said Liz.
This week marks one year since she brought her campaign to Leinster House where, along with representatives of Diabetes Ireland, she met with politicians in order to highlight concerns.