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‘Mental distress’ for children who cannot get spinal op

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has warned that children who cannot get the spinal surgery they need face devastating consequences.

“The suffering and mental distress is unimaginable,” she said during Leaders Questions.

Ms McDonald told the Dáil that in 2017, Simon Harris – during his time minister for health – promised that children would not have to wait more than four months for this surgery.

She said that parents of these children have seen their trust shattered after all the broken promises.

“Those most desperate of cases have the longest wait,” she said.

Taoiseach Simon Harris said he was told by the then Director of the HSE in 2017 that a plan would be put in place to ensure that no child would have to wait more than four months for surgery.

He said following this commitment, there was a significant reduction in the number of children waiting for surgery but then the Covid-19 pandemic happened and this led to delays.

The Taoiseach said no one wants to see children in pain and he still remembers many of the children he met as health minister.

Mr Harris said 124 spinal procedures have taken place this year and the option of children getting this surgery abroad is now being looked at.

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