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Sunday, 31 January 2016
Two-year wait for scoliosis surgery for Galway patients
Patients in Galway are waiting up to two years to undergo life-changing surgery, despite promises to reduce waiting list times.
Scoliosis sufferers have had to deal with their condition getting progressively worse while they wait to be called for surgery.
Aisling Corcoran has been on the waiting list at University Hospital Galway (UHG) for 18 months.
“I have never gotten a date and it makes me angry that I’ve been on a waiting list for so long. Every time I ring I get the same response and I don’t seem to be getting any further with them,” she said.
“They say there’s no funding available or there’s no beds so it gets to the stage where you just feel like giving up ringing them,” she added.
Ms Corcoran, who is originally from Castlebar, Co. Mayo, was first diagnosed with scoliosis, a painful curvature of the spine, when she was 13 and had her first operation carried out in Crumlin in 2000 where she had rods put in her back.
However the rods had to be removed in 2013 due to infection and the operation was carried out in UHG.
Since then the now 29-year-old has been waiting for another scoliosis surgery as her spine is now at a 70 degree curve.
Ms Corcoran said the pain has been particularly bad the last two months and she now attends physio twice a week as well as weekly visits to her GP.
“The pain can impact your social life in the sense you don’t feel like doing things.”
She said the pain has also affected her ability at work as she can no longer do certain things as she is not as mobile as she used to be.
Gary Farrell, founder of support group Scoliosis Ireland, has been pushing to get Aisling’s surgery underway.
He said waiting times being endured by children, teenagers and adults in Galway are “disgraceful”.
He estimates there are ten people currently on the waiting list in UHG with six patients on the list more than 15 months.
“At the minute there are six patients waiting in UHG and they’re breaching the maximum permissible waiting time of 15 months.”
According to Mr Farrell the long delays can cause increased deformity in the patient, leading to more complex surgeries and longer recovery times.
“If you’re waiting for over 15 months you can imagine how much the curvature is progressing and that can cause significant pain as well as having an effect on the person’s heart, lungs and breathing.
“There’s also the other end of things where it affects people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Mr Farrell is hopeful the situation in UHG will improve, however.
“The last time we spoke to Leo Varadkar we were told they are purchasing specialist spinal equipment and they are trying to access more theatre time,” he said.
“The earlier the surgery can be performed the better, they’re keeping the cost down because there’s less instrumentation and there’s less theatre time so it makes more sense to try and clear up the list earlier rather than later,” he added.