Delays for women sent for cancer screening
ONE in three women sent for urgent breast cancer screening in the north west was not seen within the two-week target.
And just 60pc of women classed as routine last year received screening in Letterkenny Hospital within the recommended 12 weeks.
The delays at the hospital come as breast cancer surgeon Michael Sugrue claimed that the Saolta Hospital Group, which includes Letterkenny, wants to close the service down and move it to Galway.
Earlier this month, Letterkenny surgeon Kevin Moran resigned over the lack of operating time and shortage of beds and staff.
Saolta said the service is not closing but that there will be changes in the referral of women to the breast cancer triple assessment clinic.
A spokesman for the hospital group said 65 women are being contacted and offered an appointment at University Hospital Galway to avoid them having to wait any longer.
"They are being informed that they may opt to wait for a later appointment in Letterkenny, but they are being clinically advised to take the earlier appointment in Galway."
Tony Canavan, chief operating officer, said: "As we do not have the capacity to deal with all referrals locally in Letterkenny in a timely manner, we are re-introducing the availability of support services from Galway and we would encourage all patients to avail of the first appointment that is on offer.
"Saolta regrets the distress that these longer waiting times have caused to patients."
He added: "We are re-introducing these support services from UHG to ensure that all patients will be seen within the recommended timeframes.
"There is a validation exercise currently taking place around the waiting lists at the symptomatic breast service at Letterkenny Hospital.
"However, as there is a clinical requirement that patients who have been waiting longer than the recommended timeframe be seen as soon as possible, we decided to contact these 65 patients to offer them an appointment even before the waiting list validation exercise is complete."
He said while most patients in the vicinity of Letterkenny will be seen there, situations arise where patients are waiting too long for an appointment.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said a locum doctor has been hired and the plan is to have more links with Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.