The lack of a second CT scanner at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown is presenting clinical risks including “significant” delays in providing CT-guided lung biopsies which can diagnose lung cancer.
A procurement request document, dated 8 September 2023 and obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information law, states the increasing clinical demand for CT imaging is not possible to deliver on the hospital’s single scanner. The listed requester is the hospital’s Chief Operations Officer.
Connolly Hospital is outsourcing a “large volume” of routine outpatient scans with “significant associated costs”, outlines the document.
Due to lack of capacity, there are “significant delays” in delivering procedures such as CT-guided lung biopsy.
Having a single scanner also creates difficulties during scheduled service days and breakdowns of the CT machine. In these scenarios, patients requiring emergent CT need to be “transferred to external sites and many inpatient studies are delayed with associated costs and clinical risk”.
A permanent second CT scanner is planned for the hospital, but is not expected to be available until quarter two of 2025 at the earliest. In the interim, the document outlines a proposal to rent a staffed relocatable CT service to be located at Connolly for a minimum of 12 months, with an option to extend until a permanent second scanner is installed.
Currently, the large volume of outsourced CT includes general outpatient CT, cardiac CT, and CT colonography. “There are significant delays in provision of IP [inpatient] CT which has necessitated additional weekend CT scanning, as well as delays in CT-guided lung biopsies leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.”
On 27 October, in response to queries from MI, RCSI Hospitals issued a HSE statement dated 11 September.
It outlined that Connolly had previously identified the need to enhance CT diagnostic services and plans were advanced to replace its old CT scanner and provide an additional scanner.
“The replacement scanner was installed and commissioned at the end of 2021. Steps were then taken to progress the provision of the second CT scanner at Connolly Hospital.
“Capital approval is in place for this project and a design team has been appointed to develop detailed design proposals. It is intended to submit an application for planning permission later this year, with necessary construction work to follow in 2024 subject to planning and other statutory consents.
“Hospital management are progressing interim arrangements for the provision of scans, to meet their service needs in the intervening period.”
No further comments were provided on the nature of the interim arrangements.