A Wexford mother has been left distraught over lack of consultant for her sick son
A mother of three from Wexford has said that she is distraught after her son was turned away from Slaney House due to the consultant being on sick leave without a replacement.
Caroline Smith, whose son Luke suffers from ADHD, said she was told that the nine-year-old's appointment could not go ahead as there was no consultant. Following two seizures within the past month, Caroline holds concerns about Luke's medication and is anxious to get it reviewed.
'Luke had a seizure on December 16. I took him to hospital and he was checked out completely. They said it could be just a once off,' explained the mother from Windmill Hills. 'However, last Saturday night, he had another seizure which was much longer but again, he was fine. The hospital aren't concerned that it is his medication causing the problem but as this is the first time he has experienced seizures, I want to get the consultant to look into it to be sure.'
Caroline contacted Luke's psychiatric nurse in Slaney House regarding the seizures and was informed that her scheduled appointment next week was cancelled. All final decisions regarding Luke's medication must be made by the consultant and as there is none available, she was told that the appointment would not go ahead.
'The nurse up there is wonderful. I would be lost without him,' said Caroline. 'He can talk with me and go through everything but the consultant has to pass any changes.'
Caroline said that Luke is still taking the tablets at present but needs to be constantly watched.
'At the moment, I am giving him his tablet because his schooling has come on fabulously since he has been on it,' she explained. 'But on the other hand, I have to watch him 24 hours a day. Maybe the medication isn't a problem but I won't know until I can see a consultant.'
Caroline said she was told that there was 'no definite return date' for the consultant, adding that seeking private healthcare was not an option for them. She decided to take the issue to the attention of several local councillors, including Cllr George Lawlor.
'We've made representations to the Department of Health to have it resolved and are waiting on word back,' said Cllr Lawlor.
While Caroline was told by staff in Wexford General that photosensitive epilepsy is a more likely cause for Luke's seizures, she has been unable to confirm this due to a long wait for a scan.
'Luke was referred to Crumlin Hospital for an EEG scan but he is on a six month waiting list,' she said.
Along with her worry about Luke's seizures, Caroline is also awaiting an appointment in Slaney House to determine whether Luke has Asperger's Syndrome. However, she has been told it could be a four year wait until her son is seen by a specialist.
'He could be 14 before there is any intervention. Early intervention is imperative with Asperger's,' she said. 'He sees everything as black and white and if he sees something he doesn't like, he says it. This is ok as a child but it's not so funny when they're older.'
Caroline said that she is aware of others who are facing similar delays in Slaney House. However, for her, the 'biggest problem is the lack of a consultant'.
'There are a colossal amount of problems that ADHD can cause,' she said. 'If a child suddenly takes badly, they are directed to A and E because there is no consultant in Slaney House. A and E are under enough stress as it is and they're not quite equipped for dealing with these issues.'
When contacted, a spokesperson for the HSE said:
'The HSE doesn't discuss individual cases. In regard to the type of situation you have raised as current, we'd be advising that a client and/or their families make contact with their family GP in the first instance.'