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Three complex surgeries have been postponed in Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street for the next three weeks. All other spinal surgeries will continue during this time. This decision was made collaboratively by clinical staff and management for a number of reasons. We are sincerely sorry to those families and patients affected.

The cumulative impact of undertaking a greater volume of these complex surgeries in recent months has resulted in pressures on beds, theatre capacity and on the highly specialised staff working within the service.

The nature of these complex surgeries means that there are increased medical needs and a likelihood of longer stays in hospital for children and young people with complex conditions.

Most complex cases require returns to theatre following their first surgery – this can range from 1-3 times usually or unusually, more than 20 times. These follow ups cannot always be planned for.

Children’s Health Ireland does not take lightly the decision to postpone any number of surgeries, affecting the children and young people we care for, and we are in constant contact with our families and patients affected to ensure they are kept informed of decisions and issues that may arise in our services.

We remain on track to deliver on the promise, following receipt of extra funding earlier this year, that by year end, no patient will be waiting longer than 4 months for spinal surgery (if clinically appropriate).

Background

The scoliosis/spina bifida action plan and funding was formally agreed with the HSE in April of this year. Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street has been striving continuously to implement this and achieve increased surgical activity for children with scoliosis. Significant progress has been made.

As of 28 August, Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street has undertaken the same number of spinal fusions year to date as were completed for the full year of 2021 (28). We have 13 patients on this complex wait list remaining, with 31 spinal fusions on a waiting list. This is an important distinction.

We remain on track to deliver on the promise that by year end, no patient will be waiting longer than 4 months for spinal surgery (if clinically appropriate). Spinal fusions have been prioritised for theatre and bed capacity in Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street and less complex surgery has been supported by new additional capacity in Cappagh with 383 additional cases undertaken in NOHC year to date. 

The general inpatient and day case orthopaedic waiting list in CHI at Temple Street has reduced by 30 per cent since January 2022 and we remain committed to ensuring every child on this wait list has timely access to the care that they need.

Overall to date this year between Children’s Health Ireland hospitals and Cappagh hospital, 329 spinal surgeries have been completed.

Behind all of this, our staff and management in the orthopaedic service are continuing to build on this progress and these targets, with more beds coming into the system in the coming months and the extra theatre being built. 

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