Scoliosis patient’s three years on UHG waiting list

A woman who needs urgent surgery on her spine because it has severely bent to the side, has remained on a waiting list at University Hospital Galway for nearly three years.

The patient, who suffers from scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve, has been on a waiting list since June, 2014.

Her spine has 70% curvature – when there is 50% curvature there is a need for surgery.

The woman had surgery on rods in her back due to an infection and she is awaiting major complex spinal surgery to have the rods replaced.

The case was originally raised by TD Joan Collins in Dáil Éireann in 2015. At the time, she said, a surgeon told the patient that he, “does not envisage the operation taking place for the foreseeable future”.

Since 1996, the surgeon would have been able to proceed with the operation at Merlin Park but, due to the withdrawal of support services, this type of operation is only available in UHG.

The operation was to go ahead at UHG but, “the team has not been put in place to carry them out”, according to Deputy Collins at the time.

She was told by the Saolta University Health Care Group that waiting lists for spinal injuries are a priority but the patients still haven’t been given dates for surgeries.

In the wake of the recent Prime Time Investigates programme about the awful suffering of scoliosis patients, Deputy Collins raised the woman’s plight again in the national parliament.

“I have been in contact with a young woman in Galway who has been on the orthopaedic list for scoliosis since June 2014. I contacted her yesterday again and asked if she was still on it and she is,” said Deputy Collins.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he was “heart-broken and ashamed” at those scoliosis patients who are waiting so long for treatment.

He said he “will not defend or excuse the indefensible” before outlining how Government was increasing funding to help reduce waiting times.