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Cancer Screening programmes must enjoy public confidence – McDonald

19 January, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald raised the issue of the HSE report into failing of the bowel screening programme in Wexford General Hospital today at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. Deputy McDonald said that cancer screening programmes such as BowelScreen were invaluable and that it is vital that they enjoy public confidence.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“This morning, a report into colonoscopy screening services at Wexford General Hospital has been published by the HSE. The recall of patients was instigated on foot of two cases of cancer being detected in October 2014 in patients who had recently undergone a colonoscopy, but were not diagnosed.

“The report finds that a recall of 615 patients has found 13 ‘possible missed cancers’. Of the 13 cases identified, it has been discovered that one man died before the recall took place.

“We can only send our sympathies to his family and loved ones this afternoon, and to all of those affected by the incident.

“Cancer screening programmes like this are invaluable. They can and have saved lives, but they must enjoy public confidence. There is always the possibility of human error in medical diagnosis, but this goes way beyond that.

“Misdiagnosis on this scale reveals a systemic and institutionalised problem concerning bowel screening in a hospital serving much of the south-east.

“What we need now are assurances that this cannot and will not happen again. We all want, and need, citizens to have confidence in cancer screening programmes.

“It is not good enough to produce a damning report. God knows we’ve had enough of them at this stage in relation to the health service. What we need to know is who is accountable.  Where does the buck stop?” 

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