Surgery crisis in children’s deformities

CHILDREN with deformities could be deformed for life and out-patients are waiting up to two years for an appointment because of a crisis in orthopaedics, according to the president of the Irish Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics (IITO).

David Moore, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, and the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght, said delaying treatment for these children could leave them “physically and psychologically compromised”.

“At present, children with progressive spinal deformities face prolonged waiting times for their surgery, during which time the size of their deformity increases,” Mr Moore said.

He said there is a crisis in orthopaedic surgery, particularly in paediatric orthopaedic surgery, due to manpower and bed shortages.

* Since May 2007, in the Health Service Executive (HSE) South, children born with dislocated hips or club feet and in need of surgical care must travel to Crumlin for treatment because there is no one qualified to operate on them locally.

* There are no qualified paediatric orthopaedic surgeons available in Ireland to take up a permanent position in this specialised area.

* Crumlin Hospital yesterday told staff the hospital’s only orthopaedic ward (18 bed) is to close due to financial constraints. Alternative arrangements are being put in place for patients. At least one, and possibly two, theatres will close in the summer months.

* Ireland has one orthopaedic surgeon per 47,000 head of population. This is the lowest ratio in western Europe.

* An orthopaedic surgeon in Crumlin who has been in his post for over a year still does not have an operating list where he can treat his patients.

Mr Moore said the IITO is due to submit a manpower document to the Government by the end of the month. He said they needed 20 people to do part-time paediatric orthopaedics; currently there are 10, eight of whom are in Dublin.

He said there was “no solution in sight” for paediatrics in the HSE South.

A statement from the HSE said it was “aware of the challenges surrounding the delivery of paediatric orthopaedic services and is currently working to resolve these issues”.

A statement from Crumlin said the 18-bed ward, which is shared with neurology patients, will close in May, due to budgetary restrictions. It said patients affected would be relocated to other parts of the hospital.


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