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Charity slams services for arthritis suffers

Published 18/02/2007

Ireland has one of the worst rheumatology services in Europe, according to a leading spokesperson, with sufferers having to wait four years to see a specialist.

While the World Health Organisation recommends one consultant per 80,000, Arthritis Ireland says the country has just one rheumatologist for every 400,000 people, which is the lowest number per head of population in the EU.

Areas of the West, such as Limerick, Galway, Kerry, Mayo and Donegal are particularly hard hit, with sufferers having to make long journeys to see a consultant.

Arthritis Ireland spokesperson, John Church said the shortage in experts is having a devastating effect.

"There are many pockets in Ireland that don't have any rheumatology service at all. And where they do have a rheumatologist, the service is not up to full standard when you take into consideration, what's need: like physiotherapists and occupational therapists as well.

People are waiting up to four years to see a consultant. It's just not acceptable."

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