Cork mum fearful over delays in accessing treatment for son; figures show thousands on hospital waiting lists

Cork mum fearful over delays in accessing treatment for son; figures show thousands on hospital waiting lists

The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that significant numbers of children are waiting for procedures or appointments at hospitals in Cork and around the country. File image. 

A CORK mother has expressed fears that further delays in accessing her child’s life-changing surgery could result in his condition becoming inoperable.

Christine Terry from Whitechurch said she had bought pyjamas for her 10-year-old son Adam’s surgery two years ago, when she first expected the procedure to happen. However, she says she has purchased many more pairs since, but he has not yet had the operation.

The Cork mum says their situation of waiting for a date is not unique.

The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that significant numbers of children are waiting for procedures or appointments at hospitals in Cork and around the country.

Waiting lists 

According to the latest figures, up to May 13, a total of 7,724 children were waiting for outpatient appointments in Cork and almost 400 were waiting for in-patient procedures.

Significant numbers of children in Cork also regularly receive care and see consultants at Children’s Hospital Ireland (CHI) which includes Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght University Hospital.

A breakdown of the figures shows a total of 397 children were waiting for inpatient procedures at Cork hospitals, with 159 waiting for procedures at the South Infirmary-Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH), 138 at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and 100 at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

The figures show 4,931 children were waiting for an outpatient appointment at CUH, 1,987 were waiting to be seen at SIVUH, 582 were waiting for an appointment at MUH, while 177 were waiting for an appointment at Mallow General Hospital and 47 were waiting at to be seen at the Cork University Maternity Hospital.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund figures show that 42,342 children are waiting for outpatient appointments at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), with 14,355 children waiting longer than 18 months to be seen. 

Some 5,574 children are awaiting inpatient procedures at CHI, with 1,038 waiting longer than 18 months.

Waiting for treatment

Ms Terry explained that her son Adam has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue.

He has also been on the waiting list at a Dublin hospital for two-and-a-half years to receive treatment to fix a severe curvature of his spine due to scoliosis.

This has resulted in grave concern from his whole family as he battles ongoing health issues, including obstructive lung disease caused by the pressure on his organs.

Ms Terry said her son was terrified the pain would get worse as delays continued.

“This child is not getting better because he is under so much pressure to cope with what’s going on internally,” she told The Echo.

“I wake up panicked and am finding myself running to check on him and make sure he is breathing.

“We are dealing with a fractured health system — [it is] so fractured I can’t even talk about it in everyday conversations anymore.

“It’s extremely heartbreaking because this has got to the point where Adam can’t even bring himself to eat his dinner. It is affecting every organ in his body. I have bought an astronomical amount of pyjamas, like any mother does before surgery. I’m not sure if he will ever get to wear any of them.”

Ms Terry said their situation was by no means unique.

“What is going to happen to our kids overtime if they don’t get the surgery they need on time?

“At this stage, I feel it is a human right’s issue. I no longer trust the system. This isn’t a handful of kids. There are thousands waiting even to be seen. That in itself is frightening.

“Adam told me that he’s scared he will be left so long that this will leave him in tremendous pain. That’s the last thing any mother wants to hear.”

She said that children in these situations have already suffered enough.

“We have been blue lighted [taken to hospital by ambulance] to Dublin so many times in horrific situations. It has been so difficult, but the thing is we are not special.

“There are so many children out there suffering like Adam is. These are kids who can’t go to school and are expected to thrive or stay at the same level, despite being in severe pain and suffering from unnecessary health issues as a result of these waiting lists.”

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