Ombudsman for Children criticises waiting times for scoliosis treatment

Dr Niall Muldoon says delays "should not be acceptable in Ireland 2017"

Ombudsman for Children criticises waiting times for scoliosis treatment

File photo of Dr Niall Muldoon | Image:

No child with scoliosis should have to wait more than four months for surgery, according to the Ombudsman for Children.

Dr Niall Muldoon has criticised the waiting time for treatment for young people experiencing curvature of the spine.

There is no known cause for most cases of the condition, although it can occur due to congenital, developmental or degenerative problems.

There are some children in Ireland waiting up to 18 months for treatment, the report suggests.

International best practice suggests that children with scoliosis should be operated on within three to six months.

The Government has committed to bringing wait times down to four months by the end of the year, a target the Ombudsman says is very ambitious.

A new operating theatre for scoliosis is due to open next month in Crumlin Children’s Hospital, but the Ombudsman says the unit is still hiring.

Speaking as he published his office's report Waiting on Scoliosis Treatment: A Children's Rights Issue, Dr Muldoon said: “Every child in Ireland has a right to the highest attainable standard of health. At present that right is not being respected for children and young people with Scoliosis and crisis managing has not resolved the issue.

“Due to their age and stage of development, young people with Scoliosis are suffering severe physical and psychological effects as a result of the delays they experience. This should not be acceptable in Ireland 2017."

The report also highlights the stories of three children, with one explaining: "From what I saw in England compared to here, there is a big difference in the treatment you get and when you get it.

"I was definitely the worst over there at the time. The waiting list here is insane. It’s upsetting. They need to sort it out."

Welcoming the publication of the report, Health Minister Simon Harris said: "This report rightly highlights the need for significant improvements to be achieved in terms of waiting times for scoliosis procedures for children and teenagers in Ireland."

"This absolutely is a priority for me, for the Government and for the HSE this year. I welcome the fact that the HSE has committed that no child will wait longer than 4 months for such a procedure by the end of the year. This would bring Ireland in line with waiting times in the NHS in the UK."

Minister Harris said the additional Crumlin capacity from April will be part of a 'range of measures' to achieve the target.