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Taoiseach: 'It's not good enough' that children with scoliosis like Adam Terry must wait for surgery

Labour leader Alan Kelly said that most people would forgo “modest tax changes” to ensure children could receive treatment.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said “it is not good enough” that children should have to wait for scoliosis or other surgeries, as the story of Adam Terry was raised in the Dáil. 

Labour leader Alan Kelly quoted the 10-year-old scoliosis sufferer, who has been waiting four years for surgery and whose story has recently been highlighted on RTÉ’s  Today with Claire Byrne programme

Kelly said that Adam’s story was “far more indicative of where we are going as a country” than yesterday’s Budget and added that “a majority of people in this country would give up any modest tax change if Adam and the 172 other children waiting for scoliosis procedures could have them”.

He added “There are 172 children waiting for scoliosis treatment, they need to be your priority, they need to be priority of this government above any small tax deductions or fivers here, there or anywhere.”

Kelly said that the family was considering treatment in London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital

The Tipperary TD said that he had spoken to Adam this morning and that his message to the Taoiseach was to ask: “Will you please ensure I get the treatment and aftercare I so desperately need, so I can get back to school until my friends who I miss so much. I really, really need your help.”

In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin thanked Kelly for raising the issue and said: “I don’t think it’s good enough, quite frankly, I don’t think any child should have to wait so long to get vital surgery of this kind.”

Martin said the fact this was happening represented “a systematic failure” and that he wanted it “resolved, and not just for Adam, for other children as well”.

“I don’t think Ormond Street should be the answer, sometimes it’s necessary for children to go to Great Ormond Street but in my view it reflects a systemic failure,” he said.

And I spoke to the Minister for Health, my office has been in touch with the HSE, I’m not going to give any false dawns today, I just want to see the surgery happen and I think it needs to happen. It needs to happen in a very timely manner. It’s our responsibility as a government to make sure that for other children, in terms of not just scoliosis but other conditions that children can access surgery in a timely manner. And that’s something that I’m committed to do as Taoiseach, but not just to pressure the system but to ascertain why these situations continue to occur.

The case of Adam Terry was also put to Minister for Expenditure Michael McGrath and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe on the Today With Claire Byrne programme today. 

Both ministers described the story as “heartbreaking” and McGrath said that Adam “should be top of the list.

“I don’t believe that money is a constraint there. The Department of Health and the HSE had over 22 billion euro in the current year. They’ll have the same next year,” the Fianna Fáil minister said.

“And it is about prioritising and Adam and many others in similar circumstances, are the number one priority. It is frustrating for us in government. This is a relatively new government and we need to fix this. And we will fix this,” he added. 

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- With reporting by Press Association 

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Rónán Duffy

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