The Minister for Health must come into the Dáil and answer questions as to why €19m in funding specifically allocated to reduce waiting times for children’s spinal surgery was spent elsewhere, according to Social Democrats health spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“This latest controversy is a further betrayal of children awaiting scoliosis surgery.

“In 2017, then Minister for Health Simon Harris gave a commitment that no child would wait more than four months for spinal surgery – a promise that was not delivered on at the time.

“Five years later, in 2022, the current Health Minister allocated €19m to ensure that no child would wait longer than four months.

“However, we have now learned that this money was spent elsewhere by CHI and not used to eradicate waiting lists as intended.

“This Government is simply incapable of getting to grips with this issue, which continues to impact the health and quality of life of children in need of scoliosis surgery.

“Scoliosis is a condition where early intervention can result in better outcomes. The longer children have to wait for surgery, the more their spines curve.

“Children’s Health Ireland must now explain where this money was spent and why it was not used as intended.

“Scoliosis advocacy groups claim that they alerted the Minister of this failure to spend allocated money on several occasions over the last two years.

“The Minister must now come into the Dáil and clarify exactly when he and his officials first became aware of concerns about how this €19m was being used and why action wasn’t taken sooner.

“Confidence in CHI was already on the floor. If its reputation is to be restored, we need full transparency.”

July 4, 2024

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