Call to reduce chemotherapy waiting lists

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by Alan Jacques

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AONTÚ representative for Limerick City North, Dean Quinn, has called for a cut in waiting lists for chemotherapy across the State.

He says there’s a 12 per cent differential between survival rates from women diagnosed with breast cancer in the public system and those diagnosed in the private system.

Mr Quinn said that during the first Covid lockdown last year many people had cancer diagnosis delayed as they did not attend doctors. He also pointed out that timely diagnosis and treatment seriously improves survival chances.

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Women diagnosed with breast cancer in a designated cancer centre have an 85 per cent chance of surviving the first five years. Those diagnosed in what is termed an ‘other public hospital’ have an 81 per cent chance of surviving the first five years, while those diagnosed in a private hospital have a 93 per cent survival chance. These statistics were gathered in 2019 and they need to change,” he stated.

A woman who called to the Aontú Limerick office told us that she was reassured when she went to hospital for a biopsy that they scheduled her for a chemotherapy session before the diagnosis was received. So she understood she had an appointment to hear the results of the biopsy and an appointment for chemotherapy the following day in case it was needed. It gave the impression that the health service was on the ball and super-efficient.

“Unfortunately the woman got bad news and when she presented for the appointment the next day, she found that it was for a consultation and no treatment was administered. She was then put on a six-week waiting list for chemotherapy.

“When she was finally called for chemotherapy session after five weeks she was told that the reason they were able to facilitate her sooner was because someone else on the waiting list had died.

“We need to seriously reduce waiting lists for chemotherapy in this State,” Mr Quinn concluded.