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Cancer screening services targets not met

A HSE performance report has revealed that cancer screening services missed various targets in the first quarter of this year.

The quarterly report for January to March shows that the target for BowelScreen faecal immunochemical tests (FIT) was not met, with a total deficit of 8,793 screenings. The target figure for January to March was 33,300 screenings, but only 24,507 screenings were carried out.

The report also revealed that, in October 2018, St James’s Hospital in Dublin received a performance notice from the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group for its failure to meet access targets in its BowelScreen service, as well as its breast cancer clinic. It also had low levels of compliance with the access targets for BowelScreen procedures between January and September 2018. The poor BowelScreen figures for 2018 may be partly attributed to a data reporting issue and the loss of key staff members, the report stated.

Four of the 14 contracted colonoscopy centres had difficulties offering a colonoscopy to patients with a FIT positive test within 20 working days. These units were located in Galway University Hospital, Wexford General Hospital, the Mater Hospital, Dublin, and Sligo University Hospital.

The other 10 centres were able to meet the key performance indicator of at least 90 per cent of patients being offered a colonoscopy within 20 working days.

There were 102 colonoscopies scheduled outside the 20 working-day period following a FIT positive test between January and March. However, all patients were offered a colonoscopy appointment within 30 working days.

With regard to CervicalCheck, the report stated the number of unique women who had one or more smear tests in a primary care setting was 55,947, which was behind the target of 73,000 for January to March.

However, the report added: “The numbers screened are those notified by report date — the cytology backlog in laboratories ca  78,000 tests has resulted in delays in notifying results to women and currently, the average wait stands at 10 weeks, with some women waiting up to 33 weeks.”

In BreastCheck, the number of women who had a complete mammogram from January to March was 45,693, which was behind the target of 47,000.

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