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Consultant staffing among ‘concerns’ about LUH gynae service

There continued to be “some concerns” about Letterkenny University Hospital’s (LUH) gynaecology service, including difficulties recruiting consultants, the Saolta University Health Care Group’s board quality and patient safety committee heard earlier this year.

“Progress has been made, but there continues to be some concerns around the service,” according to minutes of the committee’s meeting in March. “The recruitment of consultants is challenging and difficult to progress. There are no concerns with respect to the maternity service, however, it does have the same issues with regard to consultant recruitment.”

Earlier this month, a HIQA review confirmed that “further improvements” were needed in the governance and management of gynaecology services at LUH “to ensure the quality of the services and safety of women accessing those services”.

While the hospital received significant funding and staffing resources to make improvements to gynaecology services, there remained weaknesses in governance structures and processes at the hospital and in oversight quality assurance mechanisms at Saolta Group level. The Authority was “not assured” there were sufficient and effective governance and oversight arrangements in place to assure the quality and safety of gynaecology services, “which posed a risk to women using the services.”

The HIQA review came on foot of the Price report, which examined cases of delayed diagnosis of endometrial cancer at the hospital. In response to HIQA’s findings, Saolta acknowledged that full implementation of the Price report recommendations had not yet been completed.

A “significant number” had been implemented despite the challenges of Covid-19 and the cyberattack, and the Group and LUH were “focused on implementing the outstanding recommendations”.

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