Doctors express their disappointment and outrage with the decision of the Health Service Executive’s withdrawal of support for a scheme that would help pregnant women in the diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes.
Professor Fidelma Dunne from the medicine department of the National University of Ireland, Galway expressed her outage and concern at HSE’s decision which could place more pregnant women and their babies at risk. The diabetes specialist further pointed out that thousands of women will be affected by this sudden decision of the Health Service Executive committee.
Furthermore, doctors find it appalling that no prior consultation or discussion was initiated by the health authorities with professionals who are experts on this field. They are also appalled with how they have pursued a policy decision without regard for the health hazard it brings to thousands of women and their babies.
HSE, allegedly, is implementing the controversial policy to cut costs even if clinical trials prove otherwise and patient safety is gravely compromised. According to recent statistics, roughly 12% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that manifests only on pregnant women.
Also called pregnancy diabetes, gestational diabetes, if untreated can cause serious complications like pre-eclampsia and worst, death of the mother. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are also more likely to undergo caesarean section than those without this condition. Babies who are born to women with gestational diabetes are also more likely to experience breathing problems which would require them to be on special care baby units. In addition, research have proven that the late treatment of gestational diabetes increases the chances of a stillborn.
Gestational diabetes, however, can be managed mainly through regular monitoring of the blood sugar levels. Patients who experience this are advised to test their blood sugar levels for as many as 7 times a day to control diabetes and minimize its complications.
The Long Term Illness (LTI) scheme has been used for years to supply pregnant women with tools and simple equipment to help them test their blood sugar levels. The supplies include monitor strips, lancets and insulin shots.
Now that these supplies will not be available for free, women will have to shell out $50 to $60 just for box of testing strips. A box can usually last for a week so it is a considerable amount of money for those who are barely able to make ends meet. Professor Dunne that the treatment of gestational diabetes relies on blood sugar level results which will become a luxury from now on.
She also added that women who fail to manage their condition will more likely experience complications during delivery which can lengthen their stay in the hospital. Likewise, the baby is more likely to be at the neonatal ICU longer if the mom is untreated. Thus, she sees no economic and logical reason to stop the support for LTI.
Asked for their comment on the issue, HSE stated that gestational diabetes is not of a long term or permanent condition and thus not covered in the revised LTI scheme. For me though, if the HSE deems it appropriate to stop helping those with gestational diabetes, they should at least be kind enough to find a similar organization which can help these women.