CUH breast screening doctors ‘demoralised’

CUH breast screening doctors ‘demoralised’

A number of breast cancer consultants sent a letter to hospital management claiming they felt “demoralised” about issues surrounding accessing scans.

MANAGEMENT at Cork University Hospital (CUH) has acknowledged “a number of issues” in relation to breast cancer screening at the hospital after it was revealed that consultants felt “demoralised” by the service.

The executive committee of the hospital has asked cancer and surgery directors to investigate issues with the breast services team at CUH and report back within one month.

It was revealed yesterday that a number of breast cancer consultants sent a letter to hospital management claiming they felt “demoralised” about issues surrounding accessing scans.

They said these issues had led to “ongoing delays in initiating treatment for our cancer patients”.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the executive management board at CUH said it “has for some time been aware of a number of issues pertaining to the delivery of the symptomatic breast service” at the hospital.

“The hospital has invested significantly in the breast care team with the support of the National Cancer Control Programme and the team provide a very high level of care to very many patients each year,” it added.

“The hospital is working with the breast team to address those issues which will result in further improvements to the service and to this end have asked the directors for cancer care and surgery to follow up with the breast team and report back to the board within one month.”

RTÉ yesterday revealed a letter, dated October 31, sent by consultants to CUH chief executive, Tony McNamara, which stated that, while the maximum capacity of the screening unit is 140 new patients a week, this was being regularly exceeded.

The consultants claimed that the unit receives around 150 to 160 on a weekly basis, and had recently recorded 50 referrals in one day.

Their letter comes after a letter from Mr McNamara to the executive board, dated October 1, stated that there was inconsistency in the organisation, administration and clinical governance of the breast service and that it cannot continue.

He had also proposed a quality improvement plan for the unit and new governance.

The breast cancer consultants however rejected any suggestion that the team is underperforming, citing an increase in patients and a lack of resources.

They described an “atmosphere of isolation, suspicion and lack of trust, along with poor communication”.

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