Saturday 24 February 2018

No new funds for children in need of spinal surgery -- Reilly

Shane Hickey

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has admitted that no new funding will be committed to children who are in need of spinal operations.

Dr Reilly has told a leading orthopaedic surgeon who has complained of children languishing on waiting lists that the way resources are used will be examined -- but no money will be handed over.

Pat Kiely, a surgeon in Tallaght Hospital and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, had said he and other staff had offered to operate for free, but that they had been unable to secure hospital theatres and other necessary back-up to go ahead with the procedures.

His comments to the Irish Independent resulted in a meeting with the minister this week, where Dr Reilly said his officials would work to try and improve the efficiencies of services.

The meeting came as Jason Slevin (18), from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, recovered from the first of two major operations for a severe back deformity that has left him in pain for three years. The operation was made possible after a donor came forward to pay for the theatre and other facilities.

He was due to have the procedure done in January but Tallaght Hospital had to stop the operations due to a lack of funding.

Yesterday, Mr Kiely said the meeting with Dr Reilly had been productive and they were now working on a situation to avoid problems in the future.

"We didn't get promises of extra money but if we examine the processes and show there are extra resources available and we take them, we are getting extra resources.

"There are extra resources in the system that can be claimed and got," he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the idea that more funding was needed was not the case and described the meeting as "very productive" where the underlying difficulty with operating theatre usage was discussed.

Meanwhile, Terena Slevin, Jason's mother, said that her son was in "great form" following his first procedure last weekend.

It is expected that he will be operated on again in July.

If the procedures are successful, Jason's spine will be straighter and he will be better able to sit with less support in his wheelchair.

Ms Slevin said a successful operation would mean he would be out of pain.

"He will be a lot more comfortable in his chair. He will be sitting up straight instead of falling out of it, and able to push himself around.

"Hopefully it will take the pressure off his lung so he will have an awful lot more energy," she said.

Mr Kiely said the operations had been "a success so far".

Irish Independent

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