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Health | Waiting lists for children with scoliosis

To ask the Minister for Health the reason for delay in dealing with the waiting lists of children seeking procedures for scoliosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


I sincerely regret that children can experience a long waiting time for scoliosis treatment and remain conscious of the burden that this places on them and their families. 

Earlier this year I approved a €19 million ambitious plan from Children’s Health Ireland to reduce the number of children waiting for spinal orthopaedic procedures (scoliosis/spina bifida) by the year end. 

This funding will provide additional theatre access at Temple Street and Crumlin, diagnostic MRI capacity and enable further activity and paediatric theatre lists at Cappagh Hospital or Cappagh Kids.  

The additional activity is targeted at reducing the number of children waiting long periods for orthopaedic procedures (including scoliosis and spina bifida), and long waiting times have come down since January 2022; for those waiting for a spinal fusion there has been a 44% reduction in those waiting over 12 months and a 24% reduction in those waiting over 4 months.   

However, despite undertaking a record number of spinal procedures, corresponding reductions in the waiting list have been offset by a significant increase in demand and referrals compared to previous years with a 30% increase in additions to the spinal surgery list compared to 2021. Furthermore, unfortunately some of the additional investment in beds, MRI and theatre capacity will not come on stream until Q1 2023, having been delayed due to building and installation challenges. CHI has also experienced delays in recruiting the highly specialised staff required.

In October due to an unprecedent increase in demand  through ED’s and Urgent Care Centres and the resulting pressure on its hospitals capacity, CHI has had to reduce planned elective and routine inpatient admissions and this will continue over the winter period.

Ultimately, safeguarding and maintaining the highest possible levels of quality and child safety is the absolute priority for Children’s Health Ireland.

There will be further investment in 2023, funding of €443 million is being allocated to tackle Waiting Lists. This includes €123 million in recurrent funding, including priority areas such as Spina Bifida and Scoliosis.

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