Cancer clinics delays as hospitals feel pressure
Delays have emerged in some cancer services with just one-in-two men who need prostate screening being examined in the recommended time.
HSE figures for January show just 54.7pc of men who needed to have potential symptoms of prostate cancer checked within the 20-day deadline were seen in that time.
Its performance report revealed that Cork University Hospital is having trouble with the number of men presenting to its clinics and approval was received for the recruitment of a new specialist, with the job due to be filled this month,
In order to cope with the backlog, some men had to be sent to Waterford private hospital for screening.
The report also showed that although 90pc of cancer patients needing radiotherapy should start their treatment in 14 working days, this was only managed for 85pc. It was lower in Cork at 79.5pc.
An expansion of radiotherapy services in Cork and Galway has been sanctioned.
There were also delays in the four-week wait for colonoscopies, an invasive examination for potential bowel cancer. Tallaght Hospital in Dublin was particularly struggling.
Some 43 patients were waiting for the procedure in January, although they were seen in February, except for one patient who waited until March.
The problems come against a background of worsening surgical and outpatient waiting lists generally.
At the end of January, 2,379 people were waiting more than 15 months for an operation. Of those, 832 were in the queue for 18 months and 130 for 24 months.
Hospitals with waiting lists of more than two years include Beaumont, St James's, Tallaght, Galway and the Mater. They needed vascular surgery; ear, nose and throat surgery; neurosurgery; general surgery; and orthopaedic surgery.
Some 183 children who needed surgery were waiting 15 months and 49 were on the list for 18 months.
A massive 42,157 are waiting for more than a year to see a specialist, with 24,847 in the queue for 18 months and 5,530 for over two years.
Hospitals where patients waited over two years included Waterford, Letterkenny, Galway, Cork University Hospital and St Columcille's in Dublin.
The patients needed to see a general surgeon, dermatologist, orthopaedic surgeon or endocrinologist.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar again referred to the proposals to ease overcrowding in emergency departments and increase nursing home places to relieve the pressure on hospitals.
The hope is that these measures will allow headway to be made into waiting lists.
Hospitals overspent by €10.7m already in January as they were forced into overtime costs and agency staff in order to cope with the numbers on trolleys and the knock-on effects on overcrowding.