The tears that shamed a nation

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Limerick teenager’s agony highlights the scandal of hospital waiting lists

Megan Halvey Ryan
Megan Halvey Ryan

THE AGONY of a 13-year-old Limerick schoolgirl prompted a Dáil debate that resulted in a promise from Health Minister Simon Harris that a second operating theatre will be opened to deal with the national backlog in operations for curvature of the spine.

Megan Halvey Ryan suffers from scoliosis, a condition that has left the Dooradoyle teenager in extreme pain. Her spine and twisted rib cage are putting pressure on her internal organs and, after two years on the waiting list for surgery, she has had to drop out of school.

After a RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme revealed her plight and the state of the health waiting lists, Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins raised the matter during Dáil question time on Tuesday night.

The RTÉ programme revealed that even after a long initial wait for a diagnosis, patients have to join an equally long waiting list for treatments.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he was ashamed about what had been revealed in the programme and announced that from April, the new operating theatre built for the purpose of scoliosis will open at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

“This will see 194 spinal procedures carried out in Crumlin – significantly more than last year – and will see significant reductions in waiting lists for scoliosis and waiting times for scoliosis patients”.

Meanwhile, the Limerick Post has discovered that nine elective surgeries a day were cancelled across the University of Limerick hospitals group last month.

Most of the 286 procedures were cancelled at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) but there were also a significant number of cancellations at St John’s, Croom Orthopaedic, Ennis and Nenagh hospitals.