Children offered scoliosis surgery in Germany
Some Irish children who need an urgent operation for the severe spinal condition scoliosis will be offered surgery in a German hospital.
The HSE is to outsource the surgery to St Franziskus Hospital in Munster, Germany, as well as to HCA International which runs UK health facilities, including Portland Hospital in London , the Irish Independent has learned.
The outsourcing of surgery for children, some of whom have been waiting two years, follows a renewed pledge by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that every effort will be made to fulfil the promise that no child will be waiting longer than four months for scoliosis surgery at the end of the year.
There are still around 300 children waiting for scoliosis surgery.
A spokeswoman for the Children's Hospital Group said the surgery is being shared by Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin and Temple Street young patients have also had the surgery in the Mater Hospital and Cappagh Hospital in Dublin.
Some children have already been operated on at the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore in London.
"Reducing waiting times for children with scoliosis is a priority," said the spokeswoman.
"For the first time in a number of years the waiting list for scoliosis surgery is reducing. However, an outsourcing initiative has been necessary to support this four-month target."
The new theatre in Crumlin which opened in April is now operating three days a week, and a new orthopaedic surgeon started in early September.
Claire Cahill, the Kilkenny mother who co-founded ScolioNetwork, said parents are to get a full update next week on the plan to cut the waiting times.
She said asking families to travel to mainland Europe can be disruptive but if it means children accessing treatment then it's positive.
Parents remain very cautious about the target being met but have noticed more young children are being called for surgery in the last two weeks.
A paediatric scoliosis group was established in March which includes the three advocacy organisations.
The three children's hospitals have submitted a funding proposal to the HSE for a "sustainable" scoliosis service in 2018.
The new theatre in Crumlin was not operational for several months earlier this year due to a lack of nurses until a successful recruitment campaign.