Minister for Health Simon Harris has said a new Scoliosis Waiting List Plan, which is being devised with scoliosis advocacy groups, is to be published next month.

He told the Dáil that scoliosis waiting lists had been reducing and that there are 88 patients waiting over four months for their operation.

This compared with 182 last September.

Mr Harris said that the target for patients - who are clinically deemed to require surgery - not waiting longer than four months, will be maintained by the Health Service Executive.

He said that two new consultants will be in place this year to help reduce lists further.

At the end of May there were 166 active patients on the spinal waiting list.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O' Reilly said that, of the 88 patients waiting over four months, some were waiting over three years.

She said that they were in pain and unable to have a full life.

Deputy O'Reilly said that that commitments made in the aftermath of the 2017 RTÉ Investigates programme on patients waiting for scoliosis surgery had not been met.

Minister Harris said progress was being made, given that 447 spinal operations will be performed this year, compared with 371 last year and 224 the previous year.