Home Health Health committee hears thousands of patients are awaiting diagnostic tests

Health committee hears thousands of patients are awaiting diagnostic tests

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independent.ie- The plight of people with possible symptoms of cancer who cannot get access to a timely diagnostic test was revealed at the Oireachtas health committee yesterday.

Rachel Morrogh of the Irish Cancer Society said: “Imagine being symptomatic but unable to get timely access to a test to find out what’s wrong.

“This is the reality for the thousands of people waiting for a diagnosis in Ireland.

“For instance, we understand that there may be in excess of 100,000 people waiting for a radiology appointment.

“This includes urgent, semi-urgent and routine waiters for ultrasounds, CT and MR tests.

“The demand for radiology services is steadily rising at an annual increase of between 8-10pc,” she added.

Meanwhile, the new system of laboratory screening for women taking part in CervicalCheck is better at predicting who is at risk of developing cancer – picking up 18 in every 20 cases compared with 15 in 20 under the old method, the programme’s director Dr Noirin Russell said yesterday,

A national laboratory to carry out screening and end reliance on services elsewhere, mostly in the United States, is expected to be ready in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in mid-2022.

The CervicalCheck programme paused due to the pandemic and resumed in July.

But there is no catch-up; instead it has taken up where it left off in invitations for screening.

“We have issued over 270,000 invites in 2020 and screened over 117,000 people in primary care,” Dr Russell told the Oireachtas committee on health.

The meeting was told that BreastCheck, which resumed in October, is seeing a high uptake with 70,000 women invited and 46,000 attending so far.

HSE head of cancer control Dr Risteard O Laoide told the meeting of the major disruption caused to cancer services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with potentially up to 2,000 missed cancers – although he hoped many of these may be detected before the end of the year.