Scoliosis Action Plan must mark an end to crisis management – Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has welcomed the publication of the long awaited Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan and has said that the plan must mark the end of what has become the ongoing crisis management of this issue.

“Long waiting times for scoliosis treatment is severely impacting on the rights of children and young people. This is an issue I raised in my report Waiting on Scoliosis treatment; A children’s rights issue which was published in March.

“I very much welcome the long awaited Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan, and I look forward to it being delivered upon in the best interests of the children affected.

“The Plan has committed that no child needing surgery will be waiting more than four months for spinal fusion and other spinal procedures by the end of 2017. I am pleased that Minister Harris has supported this commitment which is in line with our recommendations.

“In order to achieve this ambitious target, the plan estimates that approximately 447 surgeries will have to take place by the end of the year. Considering that only 100 of these surgeries have taken place so far, huge commitment will be needed to deliver on this.

“I am hopeful that ongoing nurse recruitment will increase theatre capacity and help in advancing this plan.

“I am also pleased to learn of the establishment of a paediatric scoliosis services co-design group to assist in the design of a values-based and patient-centred approach. I would recommend the inclusion of children in this group to so they can play a role in decision-making in relation to their own care.

“Young people waiting on scoliosis treatment should not have to wait longer than four months for treatment. I am hopeful that this Plan will be implemented without delay and that it will have a swift and positive effect on children.  We can learn so much by listening to young people and Jane, whose story is included in our report Waiting on Scoliosis treatment; A children’s rights issue, said it best when she said:

‘My operation could have been much simpler and better. I wouldn’t have been out of school for months. I wouldn’t have been in hospital as long. I wouldn’t have taken a bed that someone else could have used. I wouldn’t have had the chest pump and taken up two theatre dates instead of one…if they had done it a year earlier I would have been left with just a tiny scar on the middle of my back, less pain, less time recovering and have more movement in my back now’”


Aoife Carragher
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
01 865 6806

Waiting on Scoliosis treatment; A children’s rights issue is available here.