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Women face more agony over breast cancer costs – TD

BREAST cancer patients with medical cards must not be made to suffer anxiety over a GP payments row, a TD has warned.

The doctors' union has declared GPs will charge the women fees for follow-up care as a result of the HSE failing to adequately consult with doctors on a new aftercare plan.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) warned that family doctors will not provide follow-up care without proper funding.

IMO GP chairman Dr Ray Walley said patients need to be aware that a new HSE plan for breast cancer aftercare means women with medical cards will have to pay the cost of their GP follow-up care, which he admitted was unacceptable.

But the HSE claimed the only extra work for the average family doctor would be to give a health check-up to an average of 10 women a year.

The new plan would mean that breast cancer patients will continue to be monitored as usual by their hospital consultants for five years.

But then the monitoring, in the form of annual health checks, will be carried out by their local GPs.

Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said he was "quite surprised and dismayed that the HSE would implement this without consultation".

"I would urge Minister Reilly to intervene here and ensure this is dealt with urgently. The most important thing is that the women concerned get all of the follow-up care they need.

"I don't want to see a situation where women who have survived a very serious illness are caused more anxiety."

Struggling

A spokeswoman for the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme said its GP follow-up plan is aimed at women who have completed their treatment.

Women who are well should be able to get the check-ups from their local doctor instead of a consultant, she said.

The IMO claimed there is no contractual requirement on GPs to provide this cancer care follow-up service when doctors are already struggling to maintain existing levels of service.

The organisation welcomed, in principle, the transfer of hospital care work to GPs.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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