Letterkenny University Hospital
Campaigners and Donegal TDs have welcomed the news that the Saolta University Health Care Group has confirmed the appointment of a second breast surgeon to Letterkenny University Hospital.
The Saolta group confirmed they have completed the process of appointing a second breast surgeon and said the surgeon will start at Letterkenny University Hospital on July 24th.
“This is excellent news,” Betty Holmes of Donegal Action for Cancer Care said. Mrs. Holmes said DACC had first raised the issue of a second breast surgeon for Donegal in 2009 with the director of the National Cancer Control Programme.
“It’s been a long journey,” she said.
Saolta is also establishing a working group including representatives of LUH, Saolta and the Western Health and Social Care Trust to progress plans to develop a cross-border linkage in breast services.
Thomas Pringle, independent TD; Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD and government chief whip; and Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, Fianna Fáil TD and leas cheann comhairle, welcomed the announcement.
“This is great news for the many patients currently on the waiting list to seek treatment and it’s great news for the future preservation of breast cancer services at LUH,” Deputy Pringle said. “I still believe the wait to get here has been unnecessarily long and arduous, particularly for patients waiting to undergo treatment, and more work needs to be done to ensure that future appointments are dealt with in a more efficient manner.”
He also welcomed establishment of the working group.
“I believe cross-border links must be developed to their full potential and work should commence sooner rather than later,” Deputy Pringle said. “I look forward to seeing the working group lead on this.”
However, he said, in the meantime Donegal is still waiting on recruitment of a number of consultants at LUH and he urged the minister to prioritise recruitment, particularly for adult and child diabetes services, “which are also seeing lengthy waiting lists as time goes on”.
Calling the announcement “very welcome news,” Minister of State McHugh said, “I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of local health lobby groups in their desire to see this happen and I am delighted that this is going ahead.”
Referring to the working group being established, the minister of state said, “Together with the new cancer care centre at Altnagelvin and first class services at Letterkenny University Hospital, this Government is investing in cancer care in the north west”.
He said the second surgeon will be on a locum basis from July 24th.
“I am confident it will become permanent, but this surgeon will be working full-time in Letterkenny and that is key to delivering services to women here in Donegal,” Minister of State McHugh said.
Deputy Gallagher said the position will work closely with Altnagelvin Hospital on a cross-border basis.
He said the announcement was welcome news, "and is an important next step in improving the services available for patients at Letterkenny and the people of the county.
"I hope now to see improvements in waiting times and patients experience at Letterkenny University Hospital," Deputy Gallagher said. "It is essential that the HSE and Department of Health continue to increase funding for LUH , and increase the staff available at the hospital."
Noting the announcement follows considerable delays in making the appointment, he said he had raised the matter on numerous occasions in the Dáil in recent months and the issue was subject to a special debate in order to secure the appointment.