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ENT warning on potential ‘missed cancer diagnoses’

By David Lynch - 10th Nov 2021

Close up of male doctor holding clipboard while talking to patients waiting in line at medical clinic, copy space

Almost 77,000 people are on ENT waiting lists with some patients waiting up to five years, a consultant ENT surgeon warned today.

Ms Mary Bresnihan, Consultant ENT Surgeon at Sligo University Hospital warned of the potential of missed cancer diagnoses. Speaking on behalf of the IHCA Ms Bresnihan said that “One of the biggest concerns is the potential for missed cancer diagnoses”.

“People with voice or throat issues for example who may not seem urgent initially, could in fact be presenting with symptoms of a tumour that, without the chance for investigation or assessment, risk going undiagnosed while they sit on a waiting list deemed ‘non-essential’.”

According to the IHCA out of the almost 77,000 people waiting on an ENT hospital list, over half are waiting longer than a year to see a consultant or receive treatment.

“We’re talking about common conditions like tonsillectomies, for example, where surgery could be managed through day-case procedures without a need for complex surgery or lengthy stays in hospital,” said Ms Bresnihan.

“But we face challenges even getting to see and assess the patient in the first place. When we do, and we schedule treatment, these patients can unfortunately—regularly—be at the mercy of emergency or other priorities taking theatre slots at the last minute.”

Ms Bresnihan said she believed that until the Government “gives greater priority” to tackling waiting lists for scheduled essential surgery and procedures, many patients will continue to face long waits and reduced health outcomes.

Ms Mary Bresnihan’s comments were made in a new video released on social media today by the IHCA as part of its #CareCantWait campaign. The video is available here:

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