Hospital offered HSE waiting list plan

OUR LADY’S Hospital for Sick Children last night confirmed that it had contacted the HSE in January with an initiative to cut waiting times for children who need urgent spinal surgery.

The revelation is likely to anger parents already furious that their children, who suffer from scoliosis, have endured delays in undergoing procedures.

The news also comes as the HSE confirmed that 168 children and adolescents are awaiting surgery for scoliosis in Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin alone, and that no new patients are being accepted there.

It also said the country’s three paediatric hospitals are to meet with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund to discuss sharing resources so that children with severe spinal problems can have operations.

Last night a spokesperson for Crumlin Hospital said: “Our Lady’s Hospital can confirm that it submitted an initiative to reduce waiting lists for spinal deformity surgery to the HSE in January 2009.”

The hospital would not elaborate as to the HSE response to the proposals, although it is understood that just one subsequent meeting took place. The options are believed to have included sending some patients overseas for the operations, with surgeons here travelling to be involved in the procedures. However, the spokesperson said the hospital welcomed news of the upcoming meeting with the HSE.

The HSE last night said it was not aware of any initiative from the hospital in January, but said it was working with Crumlin Hospital and the National Orthopaedic Hospital at Cappagh to maximise available resources to reduce waiting lists for certain spinal procedures for children.

As for the upcoming meeting with Crumlin Hospital, the Children’s University Hospital in Temple St and Tallaght Hospital, a spokesperson said it was being held with the aim of speeding up the rate of operations.

“A meeting with the three paediatric hospitals to progress options for facilitating these patients and with a view to sharing resources across the three hospitals is to be scheduled to take place shortly,” the spokesperson said. “It is intended to include the NTPF in these discussions.

“In the meantime, any patient who requires emergency care will be treated at the hospitals. Patients at the three children’s hospitals are prioritised for surgery based on clinical need and emergency orthopaedic surgery continues to be performed at the hospitals.”

The NTPF will be involve in the meeting after it told parents of some children with scoliosis that it was unlikely to pay for any more procedures. Two children did receive operations, covered by the NTPF, in recent weeks.

The HSE has come under fire for the problems suffered by children with scoliosis, but it said more than 400 scoliosis operations had been carried out here in the past three years.

More in this section