Tuesday 6 December 2016

Fears doctor caring for children with spina bifida will quit over resources

Published 23/11/2016 | 02:30

Temple Street Children's Hospital
Temple Street Children's Hospital

A doctor specialising in the care of young patients with spina bifida is in danger of leaving due to lack of resources, worried parents warned yesterday.

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Salvatore Cascio of Temple St Hospital, who is vital to the care of disabled children who are mostly paralysed from the waist down, was appointed in 2016 after an eight-year delay.

But the urologist is not getting the back-up he needs to do his work adequately, the support group Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus said.

They said he was failing to get proper access to theatre and radiological services to offer treatment to a child where it was needed.

There is also a lack of support in the urology team and children are facing long delays before being seen.

Children with the disability experience urinary and bowel incontinence and it is essential they are treated by a urologist to prevent complications such as kidney failure.

Before the doctor's arrival they were forced to travel abroad for care.

The support group's chief executive Tom Scott said that parents were made aware the service was under threat last week and said "it is causing great anxiety".

"We fear we may lose him if things do not change," he said.

Desperate parents spoke of their fears of children suffering irreversible kidney damage due to a waiting list backlog.

One girl, who is incontinent in her bowel and bladder, has to wait until November 2017 for an appointment.

They have now written to Health Minister Simon Harris and Disability Minister Finian McGrath calling on them to urgently intervene.

In response, a spokeswoman for Temple St Hospital said the hospital was very supportive of Mr Cascio in his efforts to provide the service.

She said he currently had a five-hour theatre slot every Thursday morning, subject to rolling closures which occur one in every four weeks.

"In addition, the operating theatre manager allocates Mr Cascio additional theatre space on Thursday afternoon sessions once or twice a month.

"There are two clinical nurse specialists assigned to the spina bifida service with administrative support."

The spokeswoman said the hospital had included the case of a second consultant paediatrician with a special interest in urology and an extra clinical nurse specialist in its estimates for 2017.

"Mr Cascio is working closely with the senior management team to provide a service within the current resources," she said.

"The hospital is very supportive of Mr Cascio in this regard."

Mr Cascio did not respond to calls by the Irish Independent yesterday.

Although there is a consultant paediatric urologist in Crumlin hospital, they are no longer able to see children with spina bifida except in extreme conditions.

There are 40 babies born with spina bifida each year in Ireland which has one of the highest rates in the world. Good care as children is vital to being able to function in adulthood.

Irish Independent

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