Information Evening 13 November 1999 – Report

This year’s guest speakers at the Information Evening were Mr. David Orr, Plastic Surgeon, Crumlin Hospital; Mr. Eamon McKiernan, Orthodontist, James Street Hospital and Ms. Catherine Cunningham, Speech & Language Therapist, Crumlin Hospital.

Mr. Orr gave a slide show presentation on current treatments for Cleft, together with Mr. McKiernan & Ms Cunningham they outlined treatment from their respective disciplines.

The main news is that Dublin is now a Euro Cleft centre. Crumlin Hospital has recently received funding from the Eastern Health Board for a new role of co-ordinator to the Cleft Team. The co-ordinator will be responsible for ensuring that patients are kept in contact with the Cleft Team and that patient appointments are made at the appropriate time. Patient records will be maintained in accordance with Euro Cleft standards. Most of all, patients and parents will get an improved service and a more effective conduit for raising queries/concerns with the Cleft Team. The treatment being adopted by the Cleft Team follows the Oslo model. This has been developed over 30 years in Oslo. The procedures and timing of interventions have been documented over this period and results have been compared.

Recent thinking in the treatment of Cleft is putting the emphasis on making a child’s life as ‘medical’ free as possible. Operations are planned for optimum gain with as little need for minor revision type operations as possible. In the past children were ‘hospital weary’ before they reached some of the more important operations in their early teenage years. This is all good news for children and parents.

During the question and answer session concern was raised by parents that speech therapy was often at long intervals apart. There is a worry that because speech therapy facilities are oversubscribed, cleft treatments are being modified in line with availability of speech therapists rather than the best treatment for children. St. James has changed the status of their speech therapist from part time to full time, while Crumlin are in the process of appointing a second speech therapist. (There will be 2 therapists covering all children in the hospital). While these recent changes are an improvement it must be remembered that the speech therapists in the hospitals carry out assessments but do not carry out the therapy. They make referrals for local care to the relevant authority for this part of patient care. It is a cause for concern that there are delays in getting children into the system and that the system would appear to be under pressure. Contributions/observations from association members are welcome on this one. More concrete information is required in order to move this forward. Please contact Ruairí Ó Dúlaing at There were many more questions and answers and much more detail than a summary article can give.

The Association would like to take this opportunity to thank the guest speakers – Mr. Orr, Mr. McKiernan and Ms. Cunningham. We would also like to thank Mr. Paddy Fleming, Paediatric Dentist, Crumlin Hospital and Ms, Claire Kelly, Speech Therapist, St. James, who meet with the association earlier in the Autumn. The people involved are very positive and enthusiastic about treatment of Cleft. The Association is very happy to be working with the team.

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