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Alarm at bowel cancer test backlog
[Posted: Tue 19/06/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The Irish Cancer Society has said it is seeking urgent answers from the Department of Health and the HSE on why so many patients are still having to wait more than three months for colonoscopies, which are often used to check for bowel cancer.
irishhealth.com revealed yesterday that the number of people waiting more than three months for colonoscopies is still reaching record levels despite a HSE initiative announced last autumn to deal with the test backlog.
At that stage, the numbers waiting over three months had reached a record 2,418. According to latest statistics, however, 2,552 are currently waiting over three months for bowel tests.
Kathleen O'Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications with the Society, told irishhealth.com they were very concerned that despite the initiative announced last year, no impact appeared to have been made on waiting lists for 'routine colonoscopies', which had actually actually risen rather than fallen.
She said the Society had sought answers on this and was waiting for a response.
Ms O'Meara said they would have to be concerned at this lack of progress on waiting lists for so-called routine colonoscopies, particularly the impact of these waiting lists on some hospitals designated to take part in the planned national colo-rectal cancer screening programme.
"We are obviously looking for answers as to why this has happened, particularly as our understanding was that 3,500 additional colonoscopies were to be carried out before the end of 2011 under the initiative, and that the three month waiting time would have been dealt with by now."
Ms O'Meara said as far as the Irish Cancer Society was concerned, a distinction should not be made between 'urgent' and 'non-urgent' bowel tests, as many without obvious symptoms who are deemed not to be urgent can end up being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The HSE has said practically all those awaiting colonoscopies deemed 'urgent' are seen within 28 days.
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