Hospital consultants call for widening of spinal surgeries review at Temple Street

IHCA conference hears review must be ‘systemic’ and ‘cannot be allowed to report to itself’

Hospital consultants are calling for changes to be implemented to the scope of the external review into spinal surgeries at Temple Street children’s hospital.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) conference, being held in Dublin today, has heard the review must be “systemic” in nature and “cannot be allowed to report to itself”.

The review into high rates of post-operative complications was ordered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and will be conducted by a UK expert.

The association, whose members make up some 95 per cent of hospital consultants in the State, said it is “not too late to allay” concerns regarding the review’s terms of reference and to whom the findings will be reported.


The review is of “utmost importance” for the patients concerned, as well as any child or adult on a waiting list for surgery in Ireland, the association said.

IHCA president, Prof Rob Landers, said the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly must take “firm control” and make “necessary adjustments”.

“It is fundamental that this review is systemic in nature because what it concludes and ultimately recommends will influence how all hospitals approach complex surgeries, innovation, risk evaluation and resourcing into the future,” he said.

Consultants operate within a flawed system with suboptimal conditions and are still expected to perform at the highest level, he said.

Speaking at the IHCA conference on Saturday morning, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called for the terms of reference to allow for a “full, transparent” review. It must not report back solely to Children’s Health Ireland, which runs Temple Street, and the HSE, she added.

“Another outcome must be the State holding its hands up,” she said.

Liverpool-based Selvadurai Nayagam has been appointed to conduct the review, which Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said can be “as wide” as he wants.

Two patient groups - Scoliosis Advocacy Network and the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Paediatric Advocacy Group - have threatened to boycott the review unless the terms of reference are widened and patients are directly involved.

A consultant at Temple Street has been referred to the Medical Council after two serious incidents in children undergoing spinal surgery, including the death of a child. It has also emerged that unauthorised springs were implanted in three children, two of which have been removed.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter