The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to the worldwide provision of acute and chronic care to patients. The effect has been particularly marked in rheumatology in Ireland, where the ability to provide acute and chronic care has been dramatically curtailed due to the combined effects of social distancing, staff redeployment and the repurposing of rheumatology units. Prior to the pandemic, there were significant challenges from an infrastructural and staffing level in Irish rheumatology.


Using a questionnaire, the authors evaluated the effect of the first wave of the COVID 19 pandemic on rheumatology services.


Responses from 87% of Rheumatology specialist services in Ireland indicate that 83% of review appointments were remote, with 87% of new patient assessments in OPD were “in person”. Only 41% of usual outpatient activity could occur within existing infrastructure given guidelines re social distancing which would result a shortfall of 42000 patient appointments. Significant numbers of staff were reassigned from Rheumatology to services elsewhere.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on access to struggling Irish Rheumatology services. Implementation of agreed recommendations for augmenting services must occur urgently.

Keywords: Rheumatology, Waiting, Lists, Reform, Survey, Pandemic.
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