Dáil debates

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Hospital Procedures

5:45 pm

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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46. To ask the Minister for Health if he will support a child (details supplied) in obtaining urgent and life-changing surgery as soon as possible. [27631/21]

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is only time for Deputy Carroll MacNeill to introduce her question.

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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My question concerns a two-year-old boy in Cork who came to my attention because of an initiative I am doing around the cost of having children in long-term hospital care. The boy's urethra is in the wrong place and I cannot understand what the delay is in providing surgical treatment for him. May I come back in, a Cheann Comhairle, after the Minister has responded?

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Given the urgency of the issue the Deputy is raising, will it be possible for the Minister to give a brief response and perhaps liaise with the Deputy afterwards?

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I can give a one-minute or two-minute response if that is helpful.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Yes, please.

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Deputy for her question. I sincerely regret, as we all do, that patients can experience a long waiting time for hospital appointments and treatment. I am very conscious of the burden this places on patients and their families. No situation is harder than when it is children who need hospital care.

It is recognised that prior to the Covid outbreak, many adults and children were already waiting too long for appointments and procedures. Unfortunately, as we know, the pandemic and, more recently, the cyberattack have had a significant impact on the provision of scheduled care services and a further backlog has arisen. Waiting lists for public hospital services remain unacceptably high. I do not believe they are defendable. The Government, with, we hope, the support of the Oireachtas, needs to do everything it can to tackle these waiting lists. It is one of the big focuses for the Government and for me as Minister for Health.

I cannot discuss a specific case on the floor of the House but I am very happy to continue to discuss it privately with the Deputy.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is that acceptable, Deputy?

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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May I make on comment, a Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Yes.

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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This is very important. The issue has been going on since the boy was born. I raised it with the Department in March after meeting the family for the first time. I have seen very different experiences in regard to surgical emergencies in Crumlin hospital. The decision in this boy's case cannot be about waiting lists. I have brought a child in with septic arthritis, which is an orthopaedic emergency, and surgery took place four hours later, at 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning. In this instance, there is a child with his urethra in the wrong place. He is nearly two years old. Apart from the medical side of it, the developmental impact for that child in terms of growing as a human being and being able to participate in Montessori school and other things as he grows is surely of an equivalent measure to other emergency cases. I cannot understand how the hospital has not acted.

I will speak about this case privately with the Minister but it is important to state here that it is not just about broader waiting lists. This boy is at a delicate developmental stage. His case has to be a developmental emergency as much as a medical emergency. I thank the Minister for the offer to continue the discussion privately. It should not have to get to the stage where we are raising individual cases but I thank him for his response and the offer to engage.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I thank the Deputy and the Minister. I hope other Members will accept that in the unique circumstances that the Deputy outlined, we had to give a little flexibility. Let me again lament the fact that something of that nature would have to be raised here at all.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.