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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 23 October 2021

'Can you imagine what it’s like to have scoliosis, Tánaiste?'

Mary Lou McDonald and Joan Burton had a heated exchange in the Dáil.

MARY LOU MCDONALD and Joan Burton had a heated exchange in the Dáil today about scoliosis waiting lists.

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader asked the Tánaiste: “Can you imagine what it’s like to have scoliosis, your spine bent to 40 degrees and organs being crushed?”

She said it was unacceptable that some children with the condition have been waiting up to 15 months to see a consultant, while they are in “chronic pain” and their parents are “powerless”.

“There’s no parent whose heart doesn’t go out to the parents … Those children will be dealt with as quickly as possible and they are being dealt with,” Burton said.

Earlier today RTÉ reported that over 250 children with scoliosis are either waiting on an operation to fix a spinal curvature or waiting to see a consultant.

There are 165 children waiting for surgery, 143 at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and 22 at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

The Tánaiste said scoliosis is “a very difficult condition”, and “significant additional resources have been put into services” in the area.

Burton said the fact that Ireland now has the fastest growing economy in Europe means we can invest in public services.

She said 100 extra scoliosis operations were carried out last year, a 51% increase on 2014, and a further 33 patients were transferred to Blackrock Clinic and a clinic in Stanmore in the UK.

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Burton said construction on a new scoliosis theatre in Crumlin will be completed in April, and two surgeons and extra staff are being taken on to help ease waiting lists.

In her response Burton also hit out at Sinn Féin, leading McDonald to describe her reply as her “single, transferable rant week-to-week” and amounted to “typical diversion on your part”.

The Tánaiste then asked McDonald:

Have you ranted enough? The hate and invective ill-become you if I may say so.

“You should hang your head in shame for suggesting that Crumlin does less than look after the children.”

McDonald said this was not the case, and Burton’s response was “frankly a bit obscene”.

Read: All non-urgent surgeries cancelled at Cork hospital

Read: Joan Burton survives motion of no confidence as TDs attack Labour in heated debate

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Órla Ryan

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