CHI welcomes new funding to improve access to paediatric services

Children’s Health Ireland welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Health for the funding approved to bring down waiting times for access to multiple paediatric services in CHI, with Scoliosis and Spina Bifida a priority focus within the Paediatric Orthopaedic specialty.

CHI and Cappagh are collaborating on increasing OPD, in-patient, day case and imaging / x-ray activity in Paediatric Orthopaedics in 2022. The commitment includes provision for an additional 92 Scoliosis treatments to reduce waiting to less than 4 months, unless clinically indicated, and for an additional 107 Spina Bifida orthopaedic and urology treatments in 2022.

Eilísh Hardiman, Chief Executive of CHI said the overall ambitious recovery plan will address the excessively long Inpatient, Day Case, X-ray and OPD waiting times for children and young people in CHI services. “CHI has a significant waiting list backlog due to numerous factors including COVID/Cyberattack/lack of theatre, imaging and bed capacity. While we look forward to the new children’s hospital, we are committed to improving access to services now. Our services are staffed by incredibly talented teams who want to care for all our children and young people. In our Orthopaedic Service, for example, we have 14 highly-trained and specialised orthopaedic surgeons ready for more theatre time and to use more resources to help them to treat their patients. Our plan supports them and their teams to do this.”

Clinical lead for the Orthopaedic Service in CHI, Consultant Orthopaedic Paediatric Surgeon, Paula Kelly, confirmed the investment will positively impact activity in the Orthopaedic Service. “More than 80 per cent of spinal surgical activity and general paediatric orthopaedic activity will occur in CHI with this investment and includes neuromuscular disability, spina bifida surgery, cancer surgery, complex limb reconstruction, hip surgery, foot deformity corrections, trauma and sports injuries. Ultimately, we want the best outcomes for our children and young people and to enable them to reach their optimal function without pain– our staff perform complex surgical procedures every day, they are highly skilled and are supported by a highly committed team including anaesthesia, radiology, pathology, nursing, Health and Social Care Professionals, administration and management. We are acutely aware of how delays impact our patients and are extremely grateful for this investment and support. Increased theatre time, dedicated orthopaedic beds and greater MRI capacity will all support the Orthopaedic Service to increase activity.”

This week CHI and Cappagh met with Ministers Stephen Donnelly and Anne Rabbitte and advocacy groups to share the recovery plan relating to Scoliosis and Spina Bifida services.

Scoliosis and Spina Bifida targets:

  • no Scoliosis patients waiting over 4 months for in-patient treatment by end of year unless clinically deemed
  • increase Scoliosis spinal surgeries by 92 in 2022
  • reduce the total Scoliosis waiting list from 224 at end January 2022 to 128 by end of year
  • treat an additional 107 Spina Bifida cases (urology and orthopaedics)

A number of targeted actions will also be implemented:

  • an increase in in-patient /day case capacity through increased access to the theatres at Crumlin, Temple Street, and Cappagh as well as additional theatre space, beds, and MRI capacity
  • expansion/reconfiguration of out-patient cases and additional Active Clinical Triage
  • ring-fenced and protected orthopaedic theatre time and beds in CHI Temple Street and Crumlin
  • enhanced use of private sector facilities

CHI will provide a monthly update on progression of the plan to advocacy groups, families and publically via CHI websites.

The above mentioned funding, announced 17 February 2022, will be directed to expanding CHI capacity to undertake significantly more surgery through the provision of extra staff; additional theatre capacity; additional beds and additional diagnostic support, including an additional MRI modular machine at CHI Crumlin.

Together this will provide a much needed investment in staff and infrastructure on our existing sites, prior to the move to the new national children’s hospital

Since confirmation of the funding CHI has:

·       Embarked on recruitment of additional paediatric theatre nurses anaesthetic staff and support staff

·       Commenced procurement for additional orthopaedic capacity in the independent sector

·       Appointed a senior Clinical Nurse Specialist to support improvements in Scoliosis Services and preparing for similar in Spina Bifida

·       Commenced procurement for  the additional modular MRI at CHI at Crumlin

·       Commenced enabling works for the creation of a 5th Theatre in CHI at Temple Street

·       Worked with Cappagh Hospital to plan for additional theatre capacity – due to commence early April

·      Engaged with Advocacy Groups on our plans and are working on additional detailed actions to reduce waiting times.

CHI will provide a monthly update on progression of the plan to advocacy groups, families and publicly via CHI websites.

Next update: Coming soon.