Health | To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which adequate provision is being made to ensure the availability of early intervention for patients with scoliosis or spina bifida
To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which adequate provision is being made to ensure the availability of early intervention for patients with scoliosis or spina bifida; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I sincerely regret that children can experience a long waiting time for orthopaedic treatment, and I remain conscious of the burden that this places on them and their families. One of the central priorities for me as Minister for Health is that waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures are improved, and that children receive the care that they need and deserve in a timely and appropriate fashion. In particular, a special area of focus for me and my Department is that of paediatric orthopaedics.
In January I asked the HSE to develop a dedicated plan to tackle scoliosis waiting lists this year. In February I met with senior officials of Children’s Heath Ireland (CHI) and the HSE, as well as senior orthopaedic clinicians from Temple Street, Crumlin and Cappagh, to discuss the finalisation of the proposals to increase orthopaedic activity at CHI. The plan proposes ambitious additional activity levels which will work to reduce the number of children waiting for spinal orthopaedic procedures (scoliosis and spina bifida) by year end.
This latest initiative is further evidence of this Government’s commitment to address the issues facing these children. Both current and capital funding has been provided to a value of €19 million in 2022 to support this initiative.
More specifically, €3.4 million has been committed to support additional activity at Cappagh Orthopaedic hospital. This is the full year requirement associated with the €1.65 million that was provided from the Access to Care Fund in 2021 to support CHI paediatric orthopaedic activity at Cappagh. Furthermore, €4.7 million has been provided on a recurring basis since 2021 to fund an additional 24 beds at Crumlin and Temple street, and 2 high dependency unit beds at Crumlin. These beds will facilitate the increase in activity needed to reduce paediatric orthopaedic waiting times. A further €4 million has been committed for a theatre expansion programme across CHI sites to focus on paediatric orthopaedics. Capital funding of €4 million has been designated to support this initiative, which is included within the 2022 Capital Plan. Finally, €2 million has been provided for outsourcing initiatives for both inpatient and daycase procedures, as well as to meet radiology needs. Plans are currently being finalised by CHI in this regard.
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