Children with endocrine disorders that could potentially affect growth and development are struggling to access timely care, a hospital consultant has warned.
Conall Dennedy, a consultant endocrinologist at University Hospital Galway, said he had noticed GPs referring children from age 13 up to the adult service “because they will be adults by the time they are seen”.
Children are seen within the adult service from the age of 16.
Dr Dennedy said endocrine disorders cause hormone problems and children were not being seen at a critical point in puberty with conditions that could affect growth and development.
“Children with endocrine disorders are meant to have 18 months transititional care, when moving from paediatric to adult services,” he said.
Not only are they being denied access to paediatric care, but are also unable to access transitional care.
Because the service is so over-stretched — there are currently more than 1,500 adults on the outpatient waiting list waiting for a first appointment — Dr Dennedy said they have to triage referrals based on information they receive from GPs.
“Because of the pressures in the system, it is not possible to check every patient, so we triage based on what GPs tells us,” he said. “Some patients are triaged as ‘soon’, which usually means waiting more than 12 months, and it’s even longer for those triaged as ‘routine’.
While they had managed to secure a paediatric endocrinologist with the service, they were “without advanced nurse practitioners in endocrinology and without clinical nurse specialists in endocrinology, vital components of the service”, said Dr Dennedy.