Patient waiting data reveals than one fifth of all patients referred to the symptomatic breast cancer clinic at Letterkenny University Hospital for an appointment have been waiting for more than a year to be seen.
The figures, which were disclosed to Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty through Parliamentary Question, show that of the 732 patients referred to the service by their GP as having displayed symptoms of possible Breast cancer, 143 of those have been waiting for over a year now for an appointment.
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Doherty has criticised both the Government and the HSE over the figures:
“The symptomatic breast disease clinic at Letterkenny University operates as a satellite service provided by University Hospital Galway, which is one of eight Symptomatic Breast Clinics funded by the HSE across the state.
“The local clinic at LUH is run by a single consultant who also undertakes general surgery at the hospital, and the service is responsible for seeing GP referrals of patients from across Donegal who display symptoms of possible breast cancer or who may have a family history of the disease.
“Currently, the breast clinic is augmented by locum consultants who must travel to carry out these important clinics at Letterkenny University Hospital. Once there, patients will be examined by a clinic doctor who may decide to refer you for some additional tests such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound.
“Despite the importance of this service, more and more patients from across Donegal have raised serious concerns in relation to the lengthy waits being faced by those referred to the service by their GP.
“This is why I immediately tabled a Dáil Question to the Minister for Health earlier this month where I sought the latest patient waiting times for the service and to obtain the facts about the numbers referred to the service as well as the length of time for appointments to be provided to patients.
“I have now received this data from the HSE and the numbers reveal that a significant number of patients referred to the clinic have been waiting for over 12 months now to be seen.
“In fact, of the 732 patients referred to the service and currently awaiting a visit to the clinic, one fifth of those, that’s 143 patients, have been on the waiting list now for over a year to receive an appointment, while a further 245 patients have already been waiting over 6 months to be seen.
“This is understandably extremely concerning for all those who are waiting to be seen as, like the majority of cancers, early detection and treatment is crucial if we are to the best patient outcome possible and potentially survival.
“While I understand that a locum consultant surgeon is due to commence work later next month in an effort to meet current service demand, clearly much more is needed to ensure that patients here in Donegal are seen and treated in a timely and effective manner.
“This is why I am calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to immediately provide the appropriate supports required by the service at LUH including the running of additional clinics needed to reduce the current excessive waiting times.
“I pledge to continue to raise this matter with Government as I believe that patients here in the county deserve to have access to cancer services which are fit-for-purpose and place the needs of patients at its core.”Tags: