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Family of cancer victim feel betrayed

THE family of a woman whose death following a late cancer diagnosis touched the nation last night accused retiring Health Minister Mary Harney of leaving a legacy of "broken promises".

Susie Long died from bowel cancer in 2007 after waiting seven months for a diagnostic test when she became ill in 2005.

Her husband and children said yesterday they felt "utterly betrayed" by Ms Harney's "broken promises".

Conor MacLiam and his daughter Aine (22) and son Fergus (17) said a planned endoscopy unit for St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny was no nearer delivery, while the south-east remained without a hospice -- three years after Ms Long's death.

"She is walking out of her job having caused immense suffering for patients dependent on public health care," the MacLiams said yesterday after hearing of Ms Harney's resignation.

The minister announced €300,000 in capital spending for an endoscopy unit at St Luke's in January 2007.

"Susie's delay in diagnosis happened because St Luke's Hospital missed out on an endoscopy unit in the last recession," her family said.

"The hospital authorities were convinced a new unit would be built and in May of 2007 presented Susie with planning briefs for the unit. Susie died in October that year believing it would be built. It still hasn't."

The HSE South has not included the Kilkenny endoscopy unit in their capital budget, according to Mr MacLiam.

He is standing as a Socialist Party candidate for Carlow-Kilkenny in the forthcoming General Election and launched his campaign last night.

Mr MacLiam has put the delivery of improved public access to healthcare at the top of his priority list.

Irish Independent