Patients needing scans face two-tier access, says Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would look for additional funding next year to allow more GPs direct access to scans for patients who need investigation for possible cancer symptoms.
He was responding to revelations in the Irish Independent yesterday that even "urgent" patients - who could potentially have ovarian cancer - can wait seven weeks for an ultrasound scan in some parts of the country. GPs have expressed concern at delays faced by patients who must be first referred to a hospital outpatient department before getting a scan.
Cancer control director Dr Jerome Coffey has acknowledged that this problem needs to be fixed.
Mr Varadkar said: "GPs can refer patients who they suspect may have ovarian cancer for an urgent ultrasound to their local hospital but I know that a lot of GPs report they aren't getting the scans for their patients as quickly as they should. There is also a real inequality in that patients who can afford to go privately can get a scan quickly. I will be seeking funding in the Budget for 'same week' access to abdominal ultrasound."