Up to 2,000 Cork and Kerry children suffering from serious orthopaedic problems will no longer have to endure lengthy trips to Dublin to receive the care they need.
The HSE South has confirmed the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork City is now providing the support.
Since 2007, children suffering from serious leg problems such as clubbed feet, hip deformities and cerebral palsy have had to travel to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin to undergo treatment.
The situation caused further complications for children and their families, who were forced to undertake excessive trips across the country.
In addition, it had led to a situation where, in the final months of last year, as many as 458 children were being forced to wait over a year for an appointment at Cork University Hospital.
However, after significant delays, Colm Taylor, consultant orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in paediatrics, has been appointed to the South Infirmary in Cork City as part of service re-organisation plans.
He is now available to treat a predicted 2,000 inpatient and outpatient child orthopaedic cases every year, including elective inpatient, rehab and day surgery.
The first child to be treated by Mr Taylor was two-year-old Olan O’ Brien, who was suffering from a clubbed foot.
This condition causes the foot to point down and inwards, with the muscles on the outer side of the leg weaker than those on the inside and the tendons on the inside of the leg becoming shorter.
His mother, Diane O’Brien, said the fact her son could be treated in Cork instead of Dublin, removed needless obstacles in his care.
“The fact we were able to have Olan’s operation carried out so close to home is fantastic, it’s done on your doorstep rather than having to travel,” she said.
HSE South regional director of operations, Pat Healy, said the new service will result in “huge changes in orthopaedic services delivery” for the Munster region. The changes come at a time when there are significant backlogs in appointment times for orthopaedic services in Cork.
Figures revealed last August to Labour TD Michael McCarthy showed that at the time there were 458 children waiting over a year for orthopaedic appointments at Cork University Hospital — with a further 1,055 adults waiting a similar length of time.
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