05 Jul 2022

Failure to provide timely Scoliosis treatment is impacting on children’s rights

Ombudsman for Children

Failure to provide timely Scoliosis treatment is impacting on children’s rights

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, Dr Aoife Daly, University of Liverpool and formerly of the Irish Human Rights Institute, Galway and Jenna O’Brien, 15, Scoliosis patient from Limerick.

“Ongoing delays and the failure by Government to adequately address the issue of access to Scoliosis treatment is impacting on the rights of children and young people in Ireland”, says Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon.

Niall was speaking following of the launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office report, 'Waiting on Scoliosis treatment; A children’s rights issue'.

“Every child in Ireland has a right to the highest attainable standard of health. At present that right is not being respected for children and young people with Scoliosis and crisis managing has not resolved the issue.

“Due to their age and stage of development, young people with Scoliosis are suffering severe physical and psychological effects as a result of the delays they experience. This should not be acceptable in Ireland 2017.

“The testimonies of three young people included in this report, make for powerful and chilling reading," he added.

Dr Aoife Daly, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool is a guest speaker at today’s launch and she will be discussing the report considering a children’s right to be heard. 

She said, “Our international human rights obligations mean that the State must take into account children’s best interests as a primary consideration when weighing up competing budget allocation and spending priorities.

“Children are a vulnerable group with no vote and little influence. Implementing the recommendations in this report, such as a national policy framework on child-friendly healthcare would go a long way to tackling the problems in question.”

A number of recommendations have been made as part of the report. Highlighting the importance of taking action on this issue, Niall continued “No child with scoliosis should have to wait in excess of 4 months from when the need for surgery is clinically determined. This is in line with recent Government commitments and complies with international best practice. 

“Long term planning and strategic thinking is needed to address this issue. We need a clear picture of existing capacity and the availability of human, financial, and technical resources.

“Child-specific waiting lists should be published for all healthcare services in Ireland. Targets for maximum waiting times for out-patient appointments should be established, and reports which monitor these targets should be published quarterly.

“It is also time to consider child-friendly budgeting, as recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Beginning in the health sector, we should know how much of the budget is being spent on children, and plans for their needs should be put in place."

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