Monday 16 December 2019

Hospitals failing to meet deadlines for cancer assessment

Dublin’s St James’s Hospital
Dublin’s St James’s Hospital

Hundreds of women and men who need investigations for suspected cancer symptoms are not being diagnosed within recommended timelines, a HSE performance report has revealed.

The long-delayed report showed just one-third of women who should be assessed urgently in a breast cancer clinic were seen in the two-week deadline by University Hospital Galway.

Many others who need assessment and are deemed non-urgent are also not getting appointments within a 12-week time limit.

Just one in five women were assessed within 12 weeks in University Hospital Waterford.

Dublin's St James's Hospital only saw four in 10 non-urgent case women on time and University Hospital Galway only achieved the target for one in two women referred for assessment.

The report also showed that several hospitals are not giving appointments on time to patients referred for possible lung cancer.

Just five out of eight hospitals met the target of 10 working days, with Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and University Hospital Waterford suffering delays.

Men who need investigation for possible prostate cancer should be screened within 20 days.

However, only one in three was seen in that time at St James's Hospital.

Other delays in giving radiotherapy treatment outside of a timeline of 15 days were seen in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, which treats patients from Donegal.

There were also time breaches in University Hospital Galway and St Luke's Hospital in the capital.

Failure to recruit and retain specialists is contributing.


The report revealed Dublin Midlands Hospital Group had to issue a performance notice to St James's about its failure to meet access targets in its breast cancer clinic.

The hospital is the biggest in the State and also has the largest cancer department.

It also had difficulty meeting targets to see patients who had taken part in BowelScreen, the free programme which invites people to test for possible cancer symptoms.

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