Vital appointment for Grace (12) had to be cancelled
As the dispute between the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the government rumbled on last week, with nurses taking up their positions on the picket lines outside hospitals across the country, thousands of patients were greeted with the frustrating news that their appointments had been cancelled.
One such patient was 12-year-old Grace Donnelly from Rosslare. A normal, bubbly 12-year-old, Grace attends Scoil Mhuire NS in Rosslare Strand and has displayed a great talent for gymnastics, winning several medals. However, two years ago, her family were dealt a blow when she was diagnosed with scoliosis - a condition which now requires urgent attention.
'She was diagnosed two years ago and we've been told by a consultant that she needs surgery right now,' explained mum Ingrid. 'Basically, it's starting to impact on her internal organs and its getting worse with every passing month. It's absolutely beginning to have an effect on her. She's in pain quite a lot of the time and she was very good at gymnastics and had won gold medals, but she's had to take a step back from that now. It's just very hard to watch her getting worse.'
Grace has been on a waiting list for the urgent surgery since last May. While Ingrid and her husband Paul were delighted when they received confirmation that Grace was to attend Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin for her pre-op assessment, this turned to despair as it was cancelled indefinitely, owing to the ongoing strike action.
'We got notification on the Friday that the appointment on the Tuesday wouldn't be going ahead due to the strike,' said a dejected Ingrid. 'I rang up and spoke to them about it, but I was told it's a management issue. Now we have no indication of when her pre-op assessment will be rescheduled. It could be months and all the while Grace is getting steadily worse. I know there are probably lots of little kids around the country in the same position.'
Ingrid does not lay the burden of blame upon the nurses for their current situation, however.
'The nurses of course deserve a pay rise,' she said. 'They work very hard. My other daughter is a nurse, so I know exactly how hard they work. My gripe is not with the nurses as such, it's with the Government. It's just when it effects little children, it becomes a little more emotional.
'The Government really need to sort this out before people are seriously affected or before someone dies.'
As for Grace's situation, the family are left in limbo as they wait on a rescheduled appointment.
'It's just heartbreaking that we're no further along the line now than we were,' Ingrid said. 'It may have only been the pre-op stage, but it was another step further along the line.'