The Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Minister for Health to deliver a full briefing of a damning report into the gynaecology service in Letterkenny University Hospital.
The report, published this week, highlighted delays in endometrial cancer diagnoses in Letterkenny University Hospital between 2010 and 2019.
It found that 38 women were waiting longer than 100 days from initial referral to diagnosis. Some women suffered delayed diagnoses due to incorrect triaging and not being booked in for follow up appointments in some cases. Many delays were underpinned by ineffective communication, the report found.
Following the publication of the report, the Irish Cancer Society said it will seek an urgent meeting with the Minister for Health and request a full briefing on the Review. Representatives are aiming to learn the impact of the clinical failures on women’s health outcomes, the measures that have been taken to date and the timelines and resourcing being made available to Letterkenny University Hospital to implement the recommendations.
“We will also ask the Minister to outline the national picture of gynaecological services, and seek evidence that necessary resourcing and capacity is being provided across the country so that gynaecology services at every hospital embody and deliver best practice and patient-centred care at every point,” a spokesperson said.
The society has expressed its support for all the women, families and loved ones affected by the cases of delayed diagnoses of cancer laid out in the report. The Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line (1800 200 700), which is staffed by cancer nurses, is available to support any patient or family member affected by this Review.
The society said: “As a result of the tragic outcomes and serious failures experienced by women affected, every necessary support must be made available to Letterkenny University Hospital and the Saolta Group to ensure that adequate resources, capacity, clinical governance and funding is provided so that the recommendations in the Review can be implemented swiftly.
“The Irish Cancer Society welcomes the fact that some improvement measures are already underway, but has cautioned that the delivery of these must be underscored by comprehensive and regular audits and commitment to meet performance targets.”
“On behalf of the women living in Donegal, the Irish Cancer Society will engage with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the findings from the Review are fully implemented, and that robust clinical governance procedures are put in place so that women can have confidence in their local gynaecological services from pre-diagnosis right through to post-treatment support.
“The Irish Cancer Society has been tirelessly advocating for timely access to tests and treatment for every person with a suspected cancer in Ireland, and has recently called for significant investment in cancer services and the National Cancer Strategy to deliver this.”
The Manager at Letterkenny University Hospital Sean Murphy has apologised to families impacted by the services. He said: “On behalf of LUH, I would like to apologise to women where the care provided to them fell short of the standards that they should expect. Over the last two weeks, we have contacted each of the patients or families where women with a diagnosis of endometrial cancer waited longer than 100 days for their diagnosis and treatment. We have offered to meet each of these women or their families and to date we have met many of them and provided them with a copy of the clinical review relevant to their own care. We have also provided them with a copy of Dr Price’s wider clinical review and we have committed to updating them on the improvements that we are continuing to put in place in the gynaecology service.
“The gynaecology team is fully committed to implementing the recommendations in this independent review and work has already begun on many of these recommendations. We will continue to work hard to make sure that we provide the safest possible gynaecological service to the women of Donegal.”