Skin cancer patients forced to travel miles for treatment
SkIN cancer patients are among scores of people in the south-east who now have to travel to Cork for their care because of a lack of any dermatologists in the region.
However, those patients whose conditions are regarded as routine and non-urgent referrals are being placed on a waiting list.
The HSE confirmed that to date, dermatology services at Waterford hospital have been provided by two permanent consultants.
"Both of these posts, however, have become vacant, one due to maternity leave and one due to retirement, both effective from the end of May 2014.
"Both of these posts, along with a third permanent consultant dermatologist post, have been advertised and every effort is being made to fill these posts as quickly as possible," a spokeswoman said.
"In the interim, Waterford has in place an arrangement with the dermatology service at South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork city.
"These new arrangements will be communicated to GPs. Arrangements have been made for urgent referrals for a dermatology service for people with skin cancer or suspicious pigmented lesions."
She said patients requiring emergency dermatology review are now referred to the dermatology department in the South Infirmary or the nearest dermatology unit as appropriate.
Patients with melanoma or highly suspicious pigmented lesions should be referred to the South Victoria. Patients with an established diagnosis of melanoma will be followed up at a designated clinic.
Complex dermatological cases such as those receiving biologic agents for psoriasis will be followed up at a designated clinic.
"We regret that in the current circumstances, routine non urgent referrals are on hold. The HSE apologises for this inconvenience and can confirm that every effort is being made to recruit these posts as quickly as possible.
"We will ensure ongoing close liaison with the dermatology department in South Victoria and have made arrangements for the clinical nurse specialist from Waterford's dermatology service to attend the Cork-based clinics," the spokeswoman added.
She said the hospital is also endeavouring at present to make arrangements with other hospitals in the surrounding regions to take some of the patients.