Pressure was last night mounting on hospital chiefs at Altnagelvin to re-asssure members of the public following the revelation that a backlog in the reporting of routine X-rays led to four patients receiving a delayed diagnosis of cancer.
The Western Trust are remaining tight-lipped about the scandal and have declined to comment on reports that one of the four patients whose diagnosis was delayed has died.
Senior members of the Trust have come in for sharp criticism from local politicians and a leading Derry cancer charity have now said the situation which led to the delay must never ever be repeated.
Karen Mullan of breast cancer support group ‘The Pink Ladies’ described the incident as “deeply worrying.”
“Steps have to be taken to make sure this never happens again and to reassure people that it will never happen again,” she told the Sunday Journal.
On Friday a spokesperson for the Western Trust confirmed that a review of 18,500 delayed x-ray reports led to four people subsequently being diagnosed with cancer - with one patient waiting ten months before receiving the appropriate treatment.
SDLP MLA Pol Callaghan has since slammed the Trust’s handling of the revelations saying they were “using Data Protection as a smokescreen” to cover up failings within the organisation.
“The Trust has a duty to be accountable,” he said and called on the minister to ensure that recommendations from the review into the governance of the Western Health Trust must be implemented.
He also called on Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to publicly state what steps he has taken to make the implementation.
Mr Callaghan has tabled an urgent oral question to the Health Minister on the subject. He said: “The Minister needs to reassure both the public and elected representatives that the recommendations of the performance review into the Western Trust will be implemented fully.
“I have tabled an urgent oral question to the Health Minister. It’s of paramount importance that all details are known and that we have confidence the review’s findings will be fully implemented.”