Tuesday 23 July 2019

Promise that no child would wait more than four months for spinal surgery is not being kept

Delay: Claire Cahill’s son Darragh is now thriving, but had to endure a 15-month wait for life-changing scoliosis surgery
Delay: Claire Cahill’s son Darragh is now thriving, but had to endure a 15-month wait for life-changing scoliosis surgery
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A Government promise that no child with the spinal condition scoliosis would wait more than four months for surgery is not being met.

At the end of last month, 98 children were on a waiting list for surgery and 29 were enduring delays of more than four months.

Claire Cahill, a Kilkenny mother whose son Darragh (10) had to wait 15 months for the life-changing surgery in 2017, said too many children are at risk of deteriorating health because of the delays.

Ms Cahill said Darragh "is thriving now" but the Scoliosis Advocacy Network, set up with another parent Michelle Long, is having to support other families.

Deirdre O'Keeffe, from near Blarney, Co Cork, said her daughter Alison (14) was put on the list for surgery in Crumlin in December and deemed "urgent".

She had a pre-op assessment in early February and at Easter was told her "name was highlighted on a board" to be brought in for surgery - but is still waiting with no operation date.

"We now have an outpatient appointment for June 24, which is neither here nor there," she said.

Joseph Hornick and his daughter Amber (13) are in a similar limbo. She was diagnosed in October and her family had to pay for a private outpatient appointment and an MRI costing around €600.

Amber was seen in Crumlin in February and was told she was "urgent", and the surgery would be done in two to three months.

"I call the hospital three times a week but we have no date for surgery. She gets out of breath and we had to keep her at home from school for a few days this year," he said.

A spokeswoman for Children's Health Ireland (CHI) said the impact of investment and the implementation of the scoliosis 10-point action plan is now starting to deliver results. In 2018 there was a 13pc increase in spinal surgeries performed by CHI compared to 2017.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News