Michael Fitzmaurice

Wait for Cancer Testing “is an absolute disgrace” says Michael Fitzmaurice

Michael Fitzmaurice

Michael Fitzmaurice TD has said that figures contained in a report published by the Irish Cancer Society which show that public patients have to wait up to 25 times longer than private patients for cancer testing “is an absolute disgrace and a situation that will have to be tackled immediately by whatever Government is in place.”

He went on to says “To hear that it can take up to a year for a public patient to have an endoscopy test, and that tests for other serious cancers such as chest scans, brain scans and MRI scans are taking months to arrange while private patients can access all these tests in a matter of days is a national scandal. What this report is telling us is that your ability to pay will determine your chances of living or dying. We cannot live in a country where the amount of money in your bank account will determine whether or not you will be treated for serious illnesses like cancer”

“The HSE will have to be called to order on this issue. We cannot allow a situation to continue whereby people are missing out on being tested for serious cancers because they do not have the money to pay for private health insurance. If these people have to be treated privately and paid for out of the public purse then so be it, but the current situation cannot be allowed to continue” he concluded.

The Irish Cancer Society report was produced following a survey conducted in association with the Irish College of General Practitioners’ (ICGP) and found the following waiting times for tests
Chest X-Ray – Wait of Up to 30 days
Abdominal Ultrasound – Wait of Up to 480 days
Pelvic Ultrasound – Wait of Up to 280 days
CT Scan Brain – Wait of Up to 240 days
CT Scan Chest – Wait of Up to 200 days
CT Scan Abdomen – Wait of Up to 200 days
MRI Brain – Wait of Up to 280 days
MRI Spine – Wait of Up to 280 days
MRI Musculoskeletal – Wait of Up to 280 days
Upper GI Endoscopy / Gastroscopy – Wait of Up to 360 days
Lower GI Endoscopy / Gastroscopy / Sigmoidoscopy / Colonoscopy – Wait of Up to 360 days

The report also found that only 0.5% of GPs in County Roscommon responded to the Survey.

It made a number of recommendations, including:

– The introduction of new guidelines for referral for cancer tests that would mean the right patients are seen at the right time
– That GPs have access to tests for suspected cancers within 28 days in each Hospital Group
– Making access to more tests available to people in their communities, resulting in the earlier diagnosis of cancer
– The development of cancer symptom awareness campaigns which would encourage patients to present earlier
– Making electronic referral the standard method of GP referral for suspected cancers and promoting the use of ‘e-referral’ among GPs