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HSE recruitment freeze ‘impacting stroke patients’

The Health Service Executive’s recruitment freeze is having a negative impact on stroke patients, the Clinical Lead of the HSE’s National Stroke Programme has said.

Less than 50% of the recommended therapy time has been provided to stroke patients while one in three stroke patients do not get a bed in stroke units, Professor Rónán Collins said.

Prof Collins said at least 150 extra speech and language therapists are needed for the strategy to run efficiently, but that just 24 were appointed last year.

However, 14 have been “lost” as a result of the staff moratorium, he added.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “This moratorium is a very blunt instrument, which is affecting our ability to staff stroke units.

“There’s some stroke units now that have no speech and language therapists … less than 50% of the recommended therapy time has been provided to our patients.

“One in three of our stroke patients do not get into a stroke unit bed.”

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Prof Collins said staffing levels are so poor that they are causing extra stress, while talented healthcare professionals are leaving the country.

He said the stroke strategy is not being implemented quickly enough and there is no commitment to protect funding for the programme.

The strategy is costed at €37 million over a five-year implementation period, he explained, and would save the health service money if it was properly executed.

Patients often regress when they attempt to return to their previous normal lives and a better neurorehabilitaion service also needs to run alongside the stroke strategy, he added.

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