The Taoiseach has spoken to ten-year-old Adam Terry, the boy in constant pain as he waits on spinal surgery for scoliosis for more than four years.
e has also spoken to Adam’s family members, including his mother Christine.
The Taoiseach also said he had a “heartfelt” discussion with Adam, but would not give details.
The case of Adam was raised in the Dáil yesterday by Labour leader Alan Kelly.
Micheál Martin said he had spoken twice to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, on the issue. “Adam has gone through a lot and I am very clear that he needs to have that operation as soon as possible,” the Taoiseach said of the Cork child.
“There are indications that will happen. It does shine a light on the wider issue, about ensuring that children get operations in a timely manner.”
Meanwhile the case of a second child was raised in the Dáil.
Six-year-old Rosie has spina bifida and scoliosis, and is now confined to a wheelchair, said Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.
It was an “atrocious situation,” she said, especially since Rosie had been scheduled for surgery at Christmas 2019, but this had been abruptly cancelled.
It had not been rescheduled in the nearly two years since, she added.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government was very concerned about scoliosis services, and the Government had provided €250 million in the Budget to address waiting lists.
He revealed that the cyber attack on the HSE had badly affected this area, because medics were unable to access children’s data held on HSE computer systems.
Mr Varadkar said he would make enquiries in relation to Rosie’s case. There are 172 children waiting for spinal surgery, and it is understood that only eight procedures have been carried out this year.
Ms Shortall said a senior paediatric orthopaedic surgeon had told her he had access to an operating theatre for half a day per week, and so could carry out surgery on one child. Yet he was being consulted in two or three other cases each week, and these were being added to the waiting list.
Ms Shortall said it was now four years since former Minister for Health Simon Harris made a vow that such children would have to wait no longer than four months for surgery. The Tánaiste said however that this had been a target of the HSE.
The Taoiseach told Independent.ie today: “In terms of surgeries and hospital services for children, I spoke again this morning to the Minister for Health and he’s already been in touch with those responsible for child treatment services in Ireland.
“This has been a long-standing issue, but it is not one of financial resources. There’s a matter of sufficient capacity, both in terms of theatre availability and in terms of personnel. Elective procedures have to be ringfenced as much as possible from trauma events. Sometimes it takes the key surgeons away, and that can be extremely distressing for families. We need greater independence for the elective surgery.”