McNulty seeks assurances on Breast Cancer services | Latest Newry News, Newry Sport and Newry Business for Newry City

McNulty seeks assurances on Breast Cancer services

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has claimed that waiting even fourteen days for an appointment with a Breast Cancer specialist is too long for those impacted and has sought assurances from the Health Minister that vacant specialist posts at Craigavon Area Hospital will be filled as a matter of urgency.

justin4Speaking during a debate tabled by the SDLP and Ulster Unionists at Stormont Mr McNulty said, “There is no home or family across this region that has not been touched by cancer.

“Whilst the survival rates across the range of cancers are constantly improving globally, if you have lost a loved one those survival rates are cold comfort at a time of great loss.

“Today’s debate is on the crisis affecting cancer services in the North and, in particular, the fact that only 6•7% of breast cancer patients in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area were seen within 14 days during June of this year.

“If you or your loved one has been referred to a cancer specialist, be it for breast cancer or any other cancer, even 14 days seems too long,” he insisted. “The agony, the worry and the anxiety must be terrible as a patient. If your father, mother, wife, husband, son or daughter is going through that anguish, it must be heart-breaking.

“The Southern Trust covers Newry and Armagh. Waiting times have improved since June, in fact 100% of patients referred are now seen within 14 days. Whilst the dip in performance in June and July of this year was due to unforeseen circumstances for those waiting for those appointments, that delay only added to the worry and anxiety.

“The services offered to breast cancer sufferers at the Mandeville unit and the Macmillan cancer care unit in Craigavon Area Hospital are second to none. The compassion and care on offer are shining lights. Time and time again, families tell me of the love, the care and the attention given by the staff there,” McNulty continued.

“Cancer care, however, is such a specialist field. Often, the care is administered by a small specialist team; any discontinuation of health personnel can have a big impact. We are all too aware of the staffing challenges facing the different areas of our health service, from GPs in rural practices to consultants in emergency departments to nursing staff in our hospitals.

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october-2016“I experienced the pressure on an emergency team in Daisy Hill Hospital with a loved one in the last month. I saw the pressure under which the doctors, nurses and porters were placed, and it was extraordinary to see the care and attention on offer those people who were working at breaking point.

“I fundamentally believe we need to take a much stronger and strategic approach to workforce planning. At present there is a 1•5 whole-time equivalent breast surgeon’s post vacant, as well as two vacancies for breast screening radiologists in the Southern Trust area. I pressed the Minister for an update on the recruitment to those posts.

“We cannot allow workforce planning issues to continue to impact cancer services, particularly in the way we have witnessed to date. Cancer care is a top priority for the people we all represent however instead of responding to my concerns the minister accused the SDLP of engaging in project fear.

The local MLA added, “The Minister seems to prefer to dodge the issue rather than resolve the issue. However, I want to see her implement improvements in the care we offer to patients with a suspected cancer diagnoses.”

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Posted by on Oct 31 2016. Filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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