85 children in Cork and Kerry delayed getting wheelchairs

85 children in Cork and Kerry delayed getting wheelchairs

Liam Lynch from Mallow and his mother Grainne, at Cork University Hospital. Liam was hospitalised in January due to severe pressure sores that developed after he outgrew his powerchair. Picture: David Keane

A CORK mum whose son was hospitalised after the HSE failed to provide a powerchair has hit out at the health service after it was revealed children in Cork and Kerry are facing inordinate delays waiting for wheelchairs or equipment.

Mallow native Liam Lynch was hospitalised in January due to severe pressure sores that developed after he outgrew his powerchair and the HSE failed to provide a new one.

Information obtained by Cork TD Michael McGrath revealed that almost 40 children are facing delays of up to six months in getting a new wheelchair or wheelchair equipment while almost 50 are waiting longer than the six-month period.

The delays relate to various pieces of health equipment and appliances, including wheelchairs, shower equipment, hoists, buggies or helmets.

Liam’s mum Grainne said it is clear the HSE has learned nothing from her son’s harrowing case. “They have learned nothing.

“I didn’t realise the numbers were that high,” she added.

“It’s a disgrace that the basic needs for a child in a wheelchair are tied up in budgets.

“It makes me so cross that they can spend thousands on a hospital stay and yet can't find the budget to purchase a chair for a child.

“A child needs their chair, it’s what they use to get around, it’s their legs.” Liam was diagnosed with a tumour in his spine and scoliosis at the age of seven and had been living an active full life in his hometown Mallow until he outgrew his power wheelchair and had to be hospitalised.

When The Echo broke Liam’s story the HSE said that even once an application for funding for equipment is approved, there may be a "lead time" before manufacturers can deliver an order.

“We sincerely regret that the funding available to us for this type of equipment is limited, and does not meet demand. Because of the significant demands on the budget for equipment, not all applications can be approved immediately.” The latest figures, released by the HSE to Deputy McGrath, show that 23 children are waiting up to six months for a wheelchair and 35 are waiting more than six months.

A further 14 are waiting up to six months for wheelchair equipment and 13 waiting more than six months.

“Some of the figures contained in the information provided to me are truly shocking,” he said.

“On the one hand, this government stands over huge cost overruns on the National Children’s Hospital, while at the same time failing to provide basic equipment to children with specific medical needs.”

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