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Recommendations from UHK report into delayed cancer diagnosis need to be urgently implemented - Louise O'Reilly TD

5 December, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this evening after the publication of the HSE Safety Incident Management Team report into delayed cancer diagnosis at Kerry Hospital, Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the recommendations of the report need to be implemented as a matter of priority, especially the recommendations regarding reliance on locum staffing.

Teachta O’Reilly:

“Today’s HSE Serious Incident Management Team report into a review of 46,000 radiology scans at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) makes for difficult reading. A total of 422 patients were identified to be recalled following the review. After repeat scans, 59 patients required a follow-up or investigation and 10 were sent to other hospitals for specialist care. 

“The report found that 11 patients had their diagnoses of cancer delayed and that this delayed diagnosis had a serious impact on their health. Four of these 11 patients have since died.

“The report made a number of recommendations which must be implemented at national and hospital level as a priority.

“However, the reason this report was undertaken was due to a number of serious reportable events at the hospital which involved the work of a temporary locum consultant.

“That locum consultant does not work at UHK anymore, but the incidents which occurred due to their failures will have a profound and lasting effect on the patients and families affected as well as UHK.

“We have recognised for some time that temporary agency or locum staffing can result in a lower level of care for patients as compared to the care delivered by directly employed staff.

“That two of the recommendations covering national and hospital level refer to locum doctors leads me to believe that the authors of the report have concerns over the quality of care sometimes delivered by temporary locum staff.

“The report states that 'The overall requirement to provide assurance on the quality and recruitment of locum Doctors… requires ongoing review and monitoring by the hospital and hospital group' and that 'The Faculty of Radiologists should examine how future versions of the Quality Improvement Programme guidelines can be modified to support smaller hospitals with a reliance on locum radiologists'.

“The HSE and the government need to look at this and learn from this report and they also have to be aware and learn from the dangers of hospitals having an over-reliance on locum and agency staff."

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