Scoliosis sufferers in the Republic of Ireland have faced significant difficulties in recent years. While treatment is freely available through the Health Service Executive (HSE), many scoliosis patients have been forced to wait months or even years for crucial procedures such as spinal fusion surgery. This situation has been dubbed 'unacceptable' by figures within the Irish government, and some people with curved spines have found themselves struggling with pain, depression and reduced mobility as a result of the long wait times.
However, the HSE recently announced that overall health funding would increase by more than €600 million in 2018, with €9 million earmarked specifically for "the expansion of paediatric/adolescent orthopaedic services, including scoliosis". Minister for Health Simon Harris (pictured below) welcomed the increased investment, adding that 2018 would be "the fourth year in a row where significant additional resources have been allocated" to Ireland's health service.
Simon Harris, Ireland's Minister for Health (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
HSE director general Tony O'Brien had a more cautious response to the news, warning (according to The Irish Times) that the HSE still faces "a very significant financial challenge in 2018" due to the increasing cost of delivering treatment and other services.
Scoliosis treatment at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic
We've treated countless patients from other countries here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, and perhaps as a result of the aforementioned long waiting lists, a significant number of those patients have come to us from the Republic of Ireland.
We provide specialist non-surgical treatment for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. Our unique ScolioGold treatment programme incorporates a wide variety of effective exercise-based techniques from all over the world, and has proven extremely effective at reducing curve angle, improving mobility and muscle balance, and boosting overall quality of life.
Molly Garvey is one scoliosis patient who came from Ireland to our clinic in England - watch the video below to hear her story.
If you'd like to arrange a consultation with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here to get in touch.
Ireland's health service is notorious for its long waiting lists. While the HSE (Health Service Executive) offers free healthcare to everyone resident in the Republic of Ireland - much as the NHS does for people in Britain - the system has been frequently criticised for keeping patients waiting for crucial treatment.
Last month, Irish Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy became the latest person to confront her country's waiting list problem, specifically singling out the long waiting lists for children who require scoliosis surgery
. On the 17th of November, 2016
, The Irish Times
reported that Ms Corcoran Kennedy had called the current waiting times "unacceptable", and that Ireland's Department of Health were "working closely with the HSE to address pressures on the service".
The problem with waiting for scoliosis treatment
If you're not familiar with scoliosis
and how the condition progresses, you might not realise why Ireland's long waiting lists are so harmful for people with curved spines. Curvature of the spine isn't generally regarded as a life-threatening illness, so what difference does it make if scoliosis patients have to wait a little longer to be seen?
The problem is that a spinal curve tends to get worse if left untreated, and this progression can happen extremely rapidly for some people. In an ideal world, every case of scoliosis would be diagnosed at an early stage and treated immediately so as to minimise the condition's impact on each patient's life; in reality, though, many a case goes undiagnosed and untreated until the symptoms (e.g. back pain, reduced mobility, muscular imbalance) become more pronounced and begin to take a significant toll on the patient's quality of life.
And even when a diagnosis is made in a timely fashion, factors such as the waiting lists in Ireland can delay treatment and allow the curve to progress unchecked. The aforementioned Irish Times article mentions a young girl named Mary, who was diagnosed with a 40 degree spinal curve but didn't undergo surgery until 17 months later, by which time her curve had progressed to an angle of more than 100 degrees.
Getting treated at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London
With waiting times in Ireland being what they are, numerous scoliosis sufferers have sought alternative treatment routes in order to get their condition under control ASAP. We have welcomed many Irish patients through the doors of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London
, where scoliosis sufferers undertake intensive exercise-based treatment courses in order to combat the symptoms of scoliosis without surgery or bracing.
One of our Irish patients is Molly Garvey from Dublin. Molly completed her ScolioGold
course in 2010 and has since returned several times for check-ups - watch the video below to find out what she thinks of us.
If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us today
Life can be very difficult for scoliosis
sufferers in the Republic of Ireland. Everyone in the country is entitled to free healthcare courtesy of the Health Service Executive (HSE), a body that's roughly equivalent to the NHS here in Britain; however, the Irish healthcare system is notorious for its extremely long waiting lists, which often force patients to wait months or even years
for all kinds of different treatments, up to and including critical operations such as heart surgery. For this reason, many Irish residents choose to pay for private health insurance, but countless others simply have to wait and hope that their illnesses don't get too much worse in the meantime.
This can be disastrous for people with curved spines. Scoliosis is one of those conditions that tends to get worse the longer it goes untreated, and when you're already in a great deal of pain and discomfort to begin with, a long wait for treatment is really the last thing you want. Earlier this year, The Irish Times published an article
on the long waiting lists for scoliosis treatment in Ireland; the piece focused on a woman from Galway named Marie Cunningham.
Speaking to the Times, Ms. Cunningham (58) stated that her condition made her feel like a 90-year-old: "walking is really bad as I am so bent over and I have to use crutches to help hold me up...They want me to wait [for treatment], but as far as I am concerned I have gone through enough pain, disability, mental depression in the past 5 years".
There are many people like Marie Cunningham in the Republic of Ireland today: scoliosis sufferers whose conditions have been allowed to progress greatly because effective treatment is not immediately available through the HSE. This, of course, is where we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic come in, and numerous patients and their families have travelled from their homes in Ireland to our clinic in London because they wanted to get access to specialist care and treatment right away instead of waiting months for the HSE to get around to them. One such patient was Jack Gaffney, the 18-year-old from County Wicklow whose story we told in our recent blog post about Klippel-Feil syndrome; another was 23-year-old Molly Garvey from Dublin. Watch the video below to find out how we helped her with her scoliosis.
If you live in the Republic of Ireland and you'd like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us
to arrange an initial consultation or visit the links below for further information.
Scoliosis Treatment for Patients from Ireland - Useful Links: