'I just want my surgery' - heartbreaking reality of waiting list scandal
Treatment furore as 49,000 hidden in 'massaged figures'
Hospital strikes loom as talks with nurses collapse
The harrowing reality of life on the hospital waiting lists was laid bare last night.
A series of heartbreaking personal stories sparked fury at the mismanagement of the health service, with anger being directed against Health Minister Simon Harris.
The full extent of the crisis in hospital waiting lists was exposed as it emerged 49,000 public patients have been "hidden" from official figures.
The patients are not documented in the monthly inpatient and day case waiting lists which currently stand at 81,015. It means that the true number of patients who are in the queue for procedures is over 130,000.
A Government TD admitted the figures were 'massaged'.
Megan Halvey-Ryan, who suffers from scoliosis - an abnormal curvature of the spine - is one of the victims of the inadequate health system and lengthy hospital waiting lists.
The 13-year-old now finds it almost impossible to attend school. The Limerick teenager describes how she feels sick with pain. And she feels her condition is affecting the whole family: "I just want my surgery."
She told last night of how she is just "sick of this stupid thing". And Megan said she feels her condition is affecting the whole family.
"It makes me really sad because I don't want to see her upset and I feel like it's somehow my fault. I just want the surgery, it's not fair," her mother said.
"It's not fair for any child to have to go through this when it can be rectified with surgery, she doesn't have to be like this.
"All she needs is her surgery and this will go away and she can start her life again, and she's not having her surgery, she doesn't have a date.
"We're still in limbo."
Two years ago, Megan only had a 20-degree curve but now it's an s-shape.
Pat Kiely, an orthopaedic surgeon who operates on children with scoliosis, said he would like to see more use of the theatres at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.
Children should be operated on between three to six months, he said.
However, the delays mean their condition can deteriorate and the surgery is more complex.
Currently he is doing around one to two of these operations a week.
The waiting time for surgery faced by children is 15 to 18 months.
Meanwhile, strike action looms at hospitals across the country after the collapse of talks on the recruitment and retention of nurses.
Compounding the crisis, hospital doctors may join the clamour for a special deal in recognition of a recruitment crisis among their ranks.