Surge in delays for vital bowel cancer test
Public patients with bowel cancer are in danger of delayed diagnoses as waiting lists for a crucial test for the disease reach a record high.
The Irish Cancer Society revealed the number of public patients waiting over three months for a colonoscopy, which is used to detect cancers, reached an all-time high of 4,343 at the end of March.
Donal Buggy, head of services, said: "Private patients can get the test done within 12 days. Waiting times have reached a critical point now.
"This issue requires political intervention before it worsens."
In two hospitals, three quarters of patients are waiting for longer than three months. In another two hospitals, more than six in ten endure these delays.
"We acknowledge the efforts of the HSE in tackling waiting times through external appointments at private facilities, but this only appears to have a short-term impact.
"An ambitious, long-term approach is needed to resolve the current situation, and we believe that political input is required to do so."
At the end of last year, private appointments were arranged for public patients waiting over 12 months.
This helped to reduce waiting times over 12 months to 114 at the end of December. However, since then this number has almost quadrupled to 544.