herald

Friday 24 March 2017

Schoolgirl begs minister: 'I can no longer bear the pain - I need my op now'

Schoolgirl Sarah-Ann (12) has curvature of the spine
Schoolgirl Sarah-Ann (12) has curvature of the spine
Sarah-Ann Clyne-Mitchell with her mother Karen

A schoolgirl with scoliosis is pleading with Health Minister Simon Harris to let her "have my operation".

Sarah-Ann Clyne-Mitchell (12), from Ballybrack, sent an email to Mr Harris saying she can no longer bear the pain that she was suffering.

She was angry that the Minister had not contacted her mother some two weeks after promising he would.

Her mother Karen (40) said she did not realise Sarah-Ann had sent the email until hours after the event.

When Ms Clyne-Mitchell realised how angry her daughter was that the Minister had "ignored" them, she took action herself in the hope the Minister would listen.

"Sarah-Ann knew that Mr Harris had said two weeks ago in the Dail that he would meet me.

Promise

"My TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, openly asked him to, and he said he would, and that promise was televised.

"I haven't heard a word from Mr Harris about any meeting and Sarah-Ann knew that.

"I came home and she told me she'd emailed him. She asked why he hadn't been in touch to meet me.

"She also asked, 'Can I have my operation, please?'"

Ms Clyne-Mitchell broke down in tears as she described the desperation of her young daughter, and described the HSE as a "poisoned chalice".

"It is ignoring mothers and children like Sarah-Ann, who are living in pain every day of their lives.

"Simon Harris knows he is dealing with a poisoned chalice in the HSE and if only he would be the first minister to admit it, that the system is broken.

"Instead, he stated that the waiting list would be fixed, when he hasn't pledged any more staff to help fix it.

"He knows it isn't going to happen and that this is an empty promise. If this man becomes Taoiseach, he is leaving the problem for someone else to fix and they won't do it either. It goes on and on.

"I wouldn't leave a dog to suffer the way children with scoliosis suffer in this country. Yet this Government, the HSE, think it's acceptable."

Sarah-Ann was diagnosed last July with a curvature of the spine, and Ms Clyne-Mitchell was told her talented Irish dancer daughter had a curvature at 50 degrees at that point.

By December, she paid for a private X-ray because she had become frustrated by waiting for an appointment on the public system.

Ms Clyne-Mitchell was horrified to find out the curvature had worsened and was then at 60 degrees.

Worse

"It had got so much worse and still we aren't on the waiting list. We only got a call the other day saying Sarah-Ann's file would be transferred to the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital," she said.

"But we don't know when Sarah-Ann will have an operation, no-one in the HSE tells us a thing."

A spokesperson for the minister said he is planning to get in touch with Sarah and Karen soon.

"He is very concerned about patients waiting in pain, and has placed a special focus on addressing the waiting times for patients with scoliosis that so drastically affect children like Sarah-Ann.

"His Department is working with the HSE on a specific Scoliosis Action Plan which will be completed shortly."

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