Locum breast consultant to be immediately appointed to Letterkenny hospital

Letterkenny General Hospital.
Letterkenny General Hospital.

A locum breast consultant is to be immediately appointed to Letterkenny General Hospital following concerns patients would have to travel to Galway.

The measure was announced by Minister McHugh who arranged at meeting at the hospital last Friday with both management and consultants.

At that meeting, it emerged that the hospital would not be in a position to provide a consultancy service to patients who had been referred by their GP for specific breast services,

Minister McHugh confirmed he was also informed that 600 routine patients are currently awaiting an appointment at Letterkenny Hospital, which is in direct breach of the HSE’s 12-week target,

“The suggested proposal was to write to each person, requesting that they travel to Galway to avail of consultant services at Galway Hospital,” said Minister McHugh.

He added: “Following that meeting, I contacted the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to highlight what I had been informed of and to discuss what steps were needed to be taken in order to prevent this action from going ahead. The Minister, his staff and his officials at the Department took immediate action and a conference call took place between the relevant HSE officials and the Saolta Group on Monday, 19 January 2015.

Minister McHugh confirmed that a “number of decisions” were taken during that conference call.

It was decided that in the short term, a further review of the situation would take place immediately; that an immediate appointment of a locum consultant breast surgeon would be made and additional clinics would be arranged at Letterkenny Hospital to support the review of patients.

In the medium, “consideration£ will be given to the placement of GP support to the Consultant at the Letterkenny Unit; the recruitment of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner to help support the Unit and to review the delivery of an integrated Breast Services across the Group.

“I understand that a detailed plan will be drafted to deal with the backlog currently in place, within this coming week,” said Minister McHugh,

“The Group will then be in a position to give a specific timeframe for full compliance of the 12-week target.

“I will continue to engage with both my colleague, Minister Varadkar, and his office to ensure that the essential services at Letterkenny Hospital not only continue, but that the challenges currently faced by the Unit at the hospital are addressed and a system introduced to ensure that such a backlog will not occur in the future.”