Minister says Dáil should debate HSE scoliosis plan

Harris repeats pledge Crumlin hospital theatre will operate by April

Minister for Health Simon Harris: said he was also looking at outsourcing the treatment of some of the teenagers awaiting scoliosis procedures

Minister for Health Simon Harris: said he was also looking at outsourcing the treatment of some of the teenagers awaiting scoliosis procedures

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he would welcome a Dáil debate on the Health Service Executive (HSE) plan on scoliosis due at the end of the month. He said HSE director general Tony O’Brien had given a commitment that by the end of the year no child would wait longer than four months for a paediatric scoliosis procedure.

“It is an ambitious and bold target considering where we are, but it sends out a strong message that we will ensure the provision of scoliosis procedures and treatments for children in this country is in line with what is done in other jurisdictions, including the NHS,’’ said Mr Harris.

The Minister was speaking during an emergency Dáil debate on hospital waiting lists.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald sought a “concrete assurance’’ from the Minister that the new theatre to treat scoliosis at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin would open and function in April. “Living on the list is a misnomer – existing on the list is the experience for so many children and their families.’’

Mr Harris said the Crumlin theatre would operate by April, and he was also looking at outsourcing the treatment of some of the teenagers awaiting scoliosis procedures.

Suffering greatly

Richard Boyd BarrettDún Laoghaire

Sinn Féin TD John Brady said many children were enduring the same suffering, including his daughter who was not diagnosed until she was 16 years old. At that stage a back brace was not an option because her growth was coming to an end.

“When I was a child the public health nurses who went into every school in the State, as they still do to carry out vaccinations, also checked for scoliosis,’’ said Mr Brady.“That no longer happens even though it is a simple procedure which takes less than two minutes.’’

Early identification

Earlier, Mr Harris called for improved management of the health services. He said there were some really excellent managers. “But there is definitely room to do more, and I reject any assertion that we are already doing all we can, and that there is not room for improvement in terms of how the health service is managed.’’

He said the problems in the health services would not be solved by resources alone. “If it was all about resources we would not have had any problems in the health services during Celtic Tiger Ireland. ’’

He said it was also about how money was spent, budgets were implemented, and how hospitals were managed.