The HSE and Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) have issued a joint apology for the “deep distress experienced” by patients with spina bifida and scoliosis and their families.
This comes following calls from advocacy groups for the HSE to have no involvement in drafting the terms of reference for an external review into spina bifida paediatric care.
The external review was commissioned after one child died and others suffered serious catastrophic complications after surgery.
It was established that children who received a particular spinal surgery in the hospital had to return to the operating theatre 11 separate times on average, with one child returning on 33 occasions.
In their statement, the HSE and CHI apologised for “the huge additions to this distress caused by the unacceptably long waiting lists for surgery, and the failings in the care we have provided to these children which have been the subject of recent reports”.
“[The external review] will not be conducted by the HSE or CHI but by Dr Selvadurai Nagayam, entirely independent of us," they said.
"We understand the advocacy groups’ deep frustration and anger and we understand that the Minister for Health has offered to meet them.”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also confirmed this week clinicians raised concerns about the care of spina bifida patients a year ago, and he knew about these concerns in August.
He said professionals should have felt safe and secure in making such a report, which did not happen in this case and the review would look at why not.
He also said he would be meeting with the independent review group next week.