Saturday 23 June 2018

Promised target for the treatment of children with scoliosis will not be met

A four-month waiting period for the treatment of children with scoliosis promised by the end of 2017 will not be met. Stock photo
A four-month waiting period for the treatment of children with scoliosis promised by the end of 2017 will not be met. Stock photo
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A four-month waiting period for the treatment of children with scoliosis promised by the end of 2017 will not be met.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny had said the issue was an “absolute priority” for the Government but his successor has now said the aim is to provide an offer of treatment within the target period.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil today that there has been “nothing has been more heart rendering in recent years” than the stories of children suffering from scoliosis.

The condition involves a person’s spine having a sideways curve.

Mr Martin said children’s health has been “compromised by delays” in treatment but the waiting lists continue to grow.

He referred to the case of teenager Megan Halvey Ryan who told her story on the Late Late Show earlier this year before receiving her surgery.

The Cork South Central TD also cited the case of another unnamed 14-year-old boy whose mother told him of the need for “humanity, empathy and compassion”.

“She’s at her wits end. She’s totally stressed with the lack of progress,” Mr Martin said.

In response Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the issue was one “very close to my own heart”, saying that waiting lists dropped in August.

He noted a number theatre for threating scoliosis patients has opened in Crumlin hospital and some cases had been outsourced to other hospitals in Dublin and the UK using the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

“The four month target was set by the HSE,” he said, adding: “I’d certainly be calling on the HSE to meet that target.”

He said that a “treatment offer” should be made to every children waiting between four to six months.

“I think it’s fair to say that we are pulling out all the stops and doing everything we can to make sure more children get the surgery they need in an acceptable timeframe.”

Mr Martin said it should be the responsibility of Health Minister Simon Harris to ensure the targets are met.

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