Plan announced to reduce waiting times for children with scoliosis

Target to be set to reduce number of patients waiting over four months for treatment

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says he has approved plans the from Children’s Health Ireland and Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A new plan to reduce treatment waiting times for children with scoliosis and spina bifida has been announced by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly said on Thursday that he had approved plans from Children’s Health Ireland and Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital that, if successful, will cut waiting times for children and teenagers in urgent need of orthopaedic surgery.

The plan will include a target to reduce the number of scoliosis patients waiting more than four months from more than 90 at the moment to zero by the end of the year.

It comes amid repeated warnings in recent months that Irish healthcare for children suffering from conditions such as scoliosis is inadequate.

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Mr Donnelly said that under the plan, scoliosis spinal surgeries will increase by 92 this year, with the total scoliosis waiting list to be cut by more than 40 per cent by the end of the year.

The plan would also see 107 extra spina bifida cases treated.

“Last week, I held a number of meetings with the clinical teams from Crumlin, Temple Street and Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital, along with senior management from these hospitals and the HSE, to discuss the development of an orthopaedic waiting list plan for children in Ireland,” Mr Donnelly said.

“I have approved the plan and welcome the target to ensure that no scoliosis patient is waiting over four months for a procedure by the end of this year.

“Time is a critical factor in ensuring children with conditions such as scoliosis and spina bifida have a positive outcome from their surgeries.”

Included in the plan is a promise of ringfenced orthopaedic theatre time and beds for patients, as well as an increased use of the private sector. – PA