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TALLAGHT Hospital was forced to extend the operating hours of its X-ray helpline, after initially manning the service during office hours only.

The freefone helpline number was given to the public on Tuesday, shortly after the story broke.

However, following the volume of calls to the service yesterday and concerns stated by the Irish Patients' Association (IPA), it has extended the operating hours of the helpline from 8am to 8pm.

The hospital has now established two helplines for the public and said it was currently dealing with approximately 100 calls an hour. A total of 823 patients called yesterday -- but less than a quarter, 206, were called back.

The hospital said it anticipates that patients will receive confirmation of their situation within a 24 to 48 hour period.

IPA chairperson Stephen McMahon said that he believed that the helpline should be extended initially for longer than eight hours a day.

The freefone helpline is 1800 283059 or 1800 283293.

-- Fiona Dillon