There has been no paediatric urologist at Temple Street Children's Hospital for the last seven years

There are calls for more funds in forthcoming budgets to be put aside for paediatric consultants

paediatric consultants

File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

Parents of children with special needs from the south west of the country are being forced to travel to England as a result of the lack of urology services in Ireland.     

There is no peadiatric urologist in the region - a situation repeated all over Ireland, including at Temple Street Children's Hospital.

The Children’s Hospital Group say they hope to have that position filled by the beginning of next month but, even when that physician is in place, it will not be enough to meet the demand all over Ireland.

Urologists treat anything to do with the bladder, urinary tract and kidneys, as well as the prostate for adults. There are thousands of conditions that require the knowledge of a specialised urologist.

Spina bifida, which can lead to difficulties in bladder management, is among the conditions that requires children to be seen and treated by a peadiatric urologist.

Siobhan Guiren, from Cork, is nine-years-old. Her dad Donal told Newstalk Breakfast's Kieran Cuddihy that his daughter's kidneys need to be closely monitored:

Siobhan sees an adult urologist in Cork once per year. However, he does not have the expertise to treat children. 

Cathal O’Neill, who is turning 13, faces similar problems.

Cathal O'Neill

He is in chronic kidney failure and, on several occasions, has needed access to a paediatric urologist so badly that he has been sent to Great Ormond Street in London for treatment.

His mother Pauline told Kieran that the lack of a specialist here is "very frustrating because we need this help, we need this monitoring, and we don't get it".

Kieran also spoke to a urologist who confirmed that the situation is bleak for children here in Ireland. She added that we do not have enough urologists across the board - for adults as well as children.

Scotland, with only a slightly larger population than Ireland, has over 80 urologists, compared to the 30 in Ireland.

Professional guidelines suggest there should be one urologist for every 50,000 people. In the South East, there are 500,000 people, but only two urologists. 

Temple Street became the specialised centre for spina bifida in 2008, but despite that the urologist position has been vacant since 2009.

The parents and consultant Kieran spoke to agreed that, in forthcoming budgets, money needs to be provided so that far more paediatric consultants can be hired to help resolve the issues caused by the current shortage.

"We need this help, and we don't get it," said Pauline. "We have scans once a year, and this is a child in chronic kidney failure. It's not good enough".