Last November, I raised the issue of access to long COVID clinics with An Taoiseach and specifically the imminent closure of the clinic at the Mater Hospital. (see video below)
I have now received the following response from Minister Donnelly:
From: Ministers Office <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: 23 February 2023 17:55
To: Denis Naughten <Denis.Naughten@oireachtas.ie>
23rd February 2023
Dear Deputy Naughten,
I refer to the Leader’s Question in the Dáil on 30 November 2022 relating to Long COVID. You will recall that the Taoiseach indicated that an update in relation to services at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Mater Hospital would be provided.
As you are aware, the HSE interim Model of Care for Long COVID is being implemented, building on existing service provision, in addition to establishing new services across GP, community services and acute hospitals, to ensure a national service is in place for all who need it. The first priority is to ensure there are Long COVID and Post-Acute COVID clinics operating within each Hospital Group to ensure a national service.
The Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE commissioned a group of clinicians across a range of specialties and disciplines to develop the Model of Care including Primary Care, Older Persons, Respiratory Medicine, Chronic Disease, Infectious Disease, Mental Health and Neurology. Other expert stakeholders involved in the group included the Irish College of General Practitioners, Health and Social Care Professionals Office and Health Intelligence Unit. Clinical oversight of the Model of Care lies with the National Clinical Director for Integrated Care in the HSE.
In relation to this specific query, I wish to advise you that the location of the Long COVID clinics established under the Interim Model of Care is a matter for the HSE, taking into account a range of factors including clinical factors. The Long Covid clinic for the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) is located in St Vincent’s University Hospital. The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital was aware of this plan prior to its implementation. There is a Post-Acute COVID clinic located at the Mater Hospital under the Interim Model of Care.
The HSE have advised me that the Long COVID clinic in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital ceased taking referrals Oct 2022 and any patients requiring further follow up will be referred to the dedicated Long Covid in St Vincent’s University Hospital. St Vincent’s University Hospital will provide care for patients attending IEHG with Long Covid symptoms who require specialist care going forward. A Consultant in Infectious Diseases was appointed to St Vincent’s University Hospital to lead on the Long Covid service in the context of the development of the HSE Interim Model of Care for Long Covid.
Funding of €2.2m was allocated in 2022 to establish the national Long COVID service and there is an overall investment of €6.6m allocated for the development of Long Covid services in 2023.
As you may be aware, the HSE commissioned a HIQA review to further inform the development of the service which was published in December. The review looked at 24 guidelines and two models of care and found that approaches and recommendations in the interim Model of Care are broadly consistent with those identified in this international literature review. Further information on the Review can be found at https://www.hiqa.ie/reports-and-publications/health-technology-assessment/international-review-clinical-guidelines-and
I trust that the above will be of assistance to you.
Stephen Donnelly T.D.
Minister for Health