Sinn Féin call for return of overseas treatment amid Temple Street incidents

Vivienne Clarke

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane has called for every health and emotional support to be given to the families of the children at the centre of the Temple Street surgery review.

Mr Cullinane told Newstalk Breakfast that questions need to be answered as quickly as possible through the external review that has been commissioned by the HSE.

However, the question remained how had something like this been missed for so long, he said. “We have clinical governance arrangements in hospitals, obviously. And while of course, I don't want to apportion any blame at this point because we have to allow an external investigator to carry out those investigations as quickly as possible, I suppose I'm making a more broader point that that question is an obvious one and one that will have to be asked.

“And all I can ask of the HSE at this point in time is to ensure that we have full open disclosure to all of those families and children affected by this. And whatever supports those families need, they need to be given as quickly as possible.”

Mr Cullinane added that there was a broader issue about the waiting times for scoliosis treatment, but this issue was different as it was calling into question procedures that had already been carried out.

The pressures on the system had to be acknowledged, he said, but the temporary suspension of services at Temple Street meant there would be pressure on Crumlin and Cappagh hospitals.

“We know that back in 2017 and 2018, a clear commitment was given to children that no child would have to wait longer than four months for surgery. At that time, the former head of the HSE and the former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, put a plan in place and.

"Part of that plan was to allow for outsourcing of some procedures in specialist clinics in Germany and in England for some reason, and this was before Covid, that outsourcing has stopped and families and children were no longer given the option of having treatment abroad. And that's not ideal.

“Of course, we all want to make sure and see that we have the capacity at home to treat patients. But I think given that we have a drop in capacity again and already there has been long wait times for children, I think that the issue of offering treatment abroad now has to be put on the table again very, very quickly.

“So obviously, all of those capacity issues are very serious issues and have been for some time. It's really important now that all of the facts are established as quickly as possible so that confidence can be restored into services.”