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Half of ops for cancer at Mater are delayed

Women being treated for breast cancer at the Mater Hospital had surgery within the recommended timeline in only 50pc of cases.

The delays at the Dublin facility have been put down to a lack of available beds and theatre time.

The information was revealed in a report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), which carried out an audit of eight hospitals.

All of the units are specialist centres for the treatment of breast cancer.

At St Vincent's in Dublin, 79pc of patients were operated on within 20 days, while the figure for St James's for 2009 was 85pc.

HIQA said the eight centres had made significant progress in the provision of cancer treatment.

The report warned of the increasing number of women being referred without having clear symptoms of the disease.

This was threatening the ability of all centres to meet their targets, it added.

Across the country, for every one woman who is diagnosed with cancer, 17 more are given the all clear.

At Beaumont, the ratio is 22 to 1, while at Letterkenny General Hospital the ratio is 37 to 1.

There has been a 50pc increase in new cases referred since 2006. In 2009, 32,000 women were seen examined for breast cancer and, of these, 2,130 were diagnosed with the disease.

The report made 18 recommendations, which are being addressed.

HIQA said all the specialised centres now have the crucial elements in place for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

It said faults previously highlighted by misdiagnosis cases have been addressed.

All centres now offer patients triple assessment and multi-disciplinary care.

The report said the centres at Cork University Hospital, Limerick Regional and Waterford Regional had not made the same level of progress as the others.They are to be subject to further reviews this year.


Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in Ireland, accounting for 30pc of all cancers in women in Ireland.

About 2,500 new breast cancer cases diagnosed each year.

The director of HIQA, Jon Billings, said "significant progress has been made in the physical establishment of the eight designated centres".

He said the centres had been found to be meeting the "key requirements of the national quality assurance standards" for treating breast cancer.