Children face long-delays as Tallaght Hospital fracture clinic still not fully open

By Mary Dennehy

THE pressure that the phased re-opening of the paediatric fracture clinic at Tallaght Hospital is having on the system was evident this week, when a young boy was given a six-week wait for a hard cast on his fractured arm.

In July, a decision was made to suspend the Trauma Orthopaedic Review Clinic at Tallaght Hospital due to “patient safety” and “recruitment challenges”.

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Since then, the clinic has been re-opened on a phased basis, with a new consultant – who works across Tallaght and Crumlin – holding one weekly clinic at Tallaght Hospital.

In recent weeks, parents have claimed that when visiting the clinic at Tallaght Hospital they are, after a four or five-hour wait in A&E, being sent to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin – which they claim is cracking under the pressure of Tallaght’s patients.

When asked by The Echo for its attendance figures for the past three months, a spokeswoman for Our Lady’s said that the trauma clinic has recorded an increase of more than 500 patients treated between July and October of this year, when compared with the same period for 2015.

She also confirmed that the Crumlin-based hospital has not received any additional resources to assist with the increase in patients being treated, but that Our Lady’s has provided “additional orthopaedic trauma clinics to deal with the increase in demand on the service”.

A father from Knocklyon, who wishes to remain unnamed, this week told The Echo how he had to go private with his six-year-old son because of a “backlog” at Our Lady’s in Crumlin.

He said: “My son fell last week and I brought him to Tallaght where we were left waiting for around four hours before getting an X-Ray – and being told to visit Crumlin the following morning.

“We went to Crumlin and in fairness to the staff they were really nice and we were seen pretty quickly.

“However, when the consultant told me my son would be waiting six weeks for a hard cast due to a backlog, I was in shock.
“I have an active six-year-old boy who can’t be left in a soft cast for six weeks.

“Usually a soft cast is used for maybe seven to 10 days until the swelling goes down and then a hard cast is fitted to help the bone reset and protect it from any more damage.”

He added: “We had no option but to go to the VHI Swiftcare Clinic, which is going to cost us.

“Not only are children not getting the care to make sure their bones heal correctly, but the current system is creating a two-tier health system, not everyone can afford to go private.

“Crumlin doesn’t have the facilities to take on all of these children from Tallaght, something needs to change.”

Tallaght Hospital this week told The Echo that a second consultant is due to start running a weekly clinic within the fortnight, with management in the process of finalising an additional clinic with the help of colleagues in Temple Street.

In a statement to The Echo, Tallaght Hospital said: “When these are in place the phased reopening will meet our current demands at Tallaght Hospital.

“Tallaght Hospital apologises for any inconvenience caused to patients and their families.”

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