Long waiting times for scoliosis surgery are unacceptable and I have been clear in my determination that these waiting times are reduced, through additional resources and capacity.
Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin is the largest provider of scoliosis surgery for children and young people. Funding was allocated in 2015 for additional consultant posts including two consultant orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetist and support staff at Crumlin. Capital funding was also provided for a new theatre on site to expand theatre capacity further. The 2016 Service Plan specifically provides for support for the new theatre capacity and the continued development of paediatric scoliosis services to address ongoing capacity deficits.
In order to address waiting times in the interim, patients from Crumlin have been transferred to other hospitals where capacity is available and where that is clinically appropriate. These include Temple Street, Cappagh, Tallaght and the Blackrock Clinic. External capacity has also been identified at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore in the UK.
As a result of these initiatives, at the end of 2015 no child was waiting longer than 15 months for scoliosis surgery. In addition, I am advised that no child is currently waiting longer than 15 months at Crumlin for an outpatient appointment at the hospital. The Department of Health is continuing to work with the HSE, the Children’s Hospital Group and the hospitals themselves to ensure that we continue to make strong progress in addressing this issue and to identify all options to further improve access times for surgery.