City hospital worst for bowel cancer test delays
ALMOST half of patients facing the longest delays for an urgent procedure to find out if they have bowel cancer are waiting in a Dublin hospital.
Connolly Hospital in Dublin had the longest waiting list for the procedure known as a colonoscopy, latest figures from the Health Service Executive (HSE) reveal. The deadline for access to this procedure is four weeks but 21 patients are waiting beyond this recommended time in Connolly Hospital.
Three years ago, Kilkenny mother Susie Long died after she revealed she had to wait seven months for the procedure and since then hospitals have been ordered to make access to the test a priority.
The latest figures from the HSE for the end of December show 8.3pc of patients -- 48 people -- are waiting longer than 28 days for the procedure.
This is an improvement on the November toll which saw 151 people waiting beyond the recommended time limit.
Of the 36 hospitals offering colonoscopy, nine currently have people waiting more than the 28-day target although this is down from 14 in November.
An estimated 59pc of those waiting are in just two hospitals: Connolly (21) and South Infirmary Cork (seven). All other hospitals have fewer than five people on waiting lists.
The HSE performance report says action plans are in place to reach compliance with the target waiting time of four weeks in the hospitals falling behind.
New guidelines on the management of urgent colonoscopy referrals have been issued to all hospitals.
Figures were not available for Mayo, Nenagh, Limerick or Cork's Mercy Hospital.
It was recently announced by Health Minister Mary Harney that a national bowel- screening programme will begin in January 2012.
She said the foundations will be laid over the next two years to put the programme in place including the building-up of facilities in hospitals to expand the number of colonoscopies they are able to perform on people whose initial test causes concern.
The latest report from the HSE reveals that just 45pc of consultants in the South Infirmary are meeting their targets to ensure that between 70-80pc of people they treat as in-patients are from pubic rather than private lists. Just 55pc are meeting their targets for treating public patients as day cases. No figures were available from Connolly Hospital.