Failure To Provide Timely Scoliosis Treatment Is Impacting On Children’s Rights – Ombudsman For Children

“Ongoing delays and the failure by Government to adequately address the issue of access to Scoliosis treatment is impacting on the rights of children and young people in Ireland”, says Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon. Niall was speaking following of the launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office report, Waiting on Scoliosis treatment; A children’s rights issue.

“Every child in Ireland has a right to the highest attainable standard of health. At present that right is not being respected for children and young people with Scoliosis and crisis managing has not resolved the issue.

Failure To Provide Timely Scoliosis Treatment Is Impacting On Children’s Rights – Ombudsman For Children

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, Dr Aoife Daly, University of Liverpool and formerly of the Irish Human Rights Institute, Galway and Jenna O’Brien, 15, Scoliosis patient from Limerick

“Due to their age and stage of development, young people with Scoliosis are suffering severe physical and psychological effects as a result of the delays they experience. This should not be acceptable in Ireland 2017.

“The testimonies of three young people included in this report, make for powerful and chilling reading.


‘The whole waiting process made me very sad all the time, I didn’t like leaving the house or looking in the mirror. I felt trapped in my own head, nobody else I knew looked like me’


‘They had to move my organs to one side so that they could work on one part of my spine. They also had to cut away some of my ribs’


‘The lowest point of all for me was in August 2014. I was going into fifth year and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do my leaving cert’


Dr Aoife Daly, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool is a guest speaker at today’s launch and she will be discussing the report considering a children’s right to be heard. She said,

“Our international human rights obligations mean that the State must take into account children’s best interests as a primary consideration when weighing up competing budget allocation and spending priorities.

“Children are a vulnerable group with no vote and little influence. Implementing the recommendations in this report, such as a national policy framework on child-friendly healthcare would go a long way to tackling the problems in question.”

A number of recommendations have been made as part of the report. Highlighting the importance of taking action on this issue, Niall continued

“No child with scoliosis should have to wait in excess of 4 months from when the need for surgery is clinically determined. This is in line with recent Government commitments and complies with international best practice.

“Long term planning and strategic thinking is needed to address this issue. We need a clear picture of existing capacity and the availability of human, financial, and technical resources.

“Child-specific waiting lists should be published for all healthcare services in Ireland. Targets for maximum waiting times for out-patient appointments should be established, and reports which monitor these targets should be published quarterly.

“It is also time to consider child-friendly budgeting, as recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Beginning in the health sector, we should know how much of the budget is being spent on children, and plans for their needs should be put in place.

“The young people in this report put it best:

‘My operation could have been much simpler and better. I wouldn’t have been out of school for months…if they had done it a year earlier I would have been left with just a tiny scar on the middle of my back, less pain, less time recovering and have more movement in my back now’

“Children and young people must be heard on this issue, but listening to their views is not enough. We must acknowledge that delays in accessing Scoliosis treatment are directly affecting children’s lives and the enjoyment of their right to health, education and to development.

“The cycle of crisis managing this issue must end with a long-term sustainable plan that has a real impact on young people, and that promotes their rights to the highest attainable standard of health.”

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