Minister asks HSE to carry out audit of children’s orthopaedic care

By Cillian Sherlock, PA

The HSE has been asked to carry out an audit of children’s orthopaedic care, according to the Minister for Health.

Stephen Donnelly said he wanted the health service’s internal audit teams to examine how a €19 million allocation in 2022 was used.

Mr Donnelly said the State had failed “far too many” children in need of orthopaedic care.

He was speaking in the Dáil after Sinn Féin brought a motion calling on the Government to establish an independent taskforce to review scoliosis and spina bifida services.


The Government tabled a countermotion which, while recognising delays for spinal surgery remain too long, said the Government is committed to improving waiting times.

It also said the minister intends to convene a taskforce on the issue and a dedicated paediatric spinal surgery management unit had been established at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI).

The Department of Health said 464 spinal procedures were carried out last year and 78 active patients were waiting more than four months at the end of December.

Mr Donnelly told the Dáil: “What is happening is inhumane.”

He said he had committed €19 million specifically for children’s orthopaedic care with a heavy focus on spinal care in 2022.

He added that the forecast he received from CHI was that this money would quickly mean no child would be waiting more than four months.

However, he said this has not happened and added: “Concerns have been raised that all of the money may not have been allocated to orthopaedic and spinal surgery, at least not in the way that I and the Government intended and that all of us in this House would want to have seen.”

He has asked the HSE to send its internal audit teams into CHI.

“I want a full account of the entire €19 million mapped against the intended purpose for that money.

“We are all absolutely determined to end the failure of these children and provide them with the care they need.”