Children with scoliosis ‘under pressure’ to go abroad for surgery

Updated / Wednesday, 27 Sep 2017 10:56

There are five spinal surgeons in Crumlin with only three theatre days, says the Scoliosis Advocacy Network

A spokesperson for the Scoliosis Advocacy Network has said the theatre at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin will have to be opened for five days a week, if the Government and Health Service Executive are to fulfil a commitment to drastically reduce waiting lists for scoliosis surgery.

Co-founder of the Scoliosis Advocacy Network Michelle Long said there are five spinal surgeons in Crumlin with only three theatre days.

She said she did not know why this was the case and only management at the hospital could answer that question.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Long said outsourcing now seemed to be the preferred method of clearing, with suitable children being sent abroad for surgery.

She said this option was unfair to parents and children, who feel under pressure to travel because they cannot get a surgery date in Ireland.

“If you don’t go to Germany for example, there’s no surgery date free in Ireland and it’s emotional blackmail. Parents are really left with no choice if they’re told that if they stay in Ireland, there is no date,” she said.

Ms Long said there would be a backlog of surgeries carried over to 2018, unless a considerable number of children went abroad for treatment.

report from the Ombudsman for Children in March found that children have been experiencing significant waiting times for scoliosis surgery, up to 18 months in some cases.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health todayMinister for Health Simon Harris said waiting lists for scoliosis, even in ‘Celtic Tiger’ times, had been unacceptably high for children.

He said an additional €10 million had been provided along with consultant posts and theatre nurses.

Mr. Harris said there were more surgeries in Temple Street and Crumlin hospitals this year compared to 2016.

He defended international outsourcing to deal with the backlog, saying that while outsourcing was not the answer, it was necessary to reduce waiting lists.

“I don’t apologise offering parents an additional route,” he said.


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