A governance review of the rapid access lung (RAL) service at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has led to a number of actions in regard to processes and resources, the Medical Independent (MI) has been informed.
The RAL service at UHL is one of eight public services nationally that provide diagnosis and staging for patients with lung cancer and suspected lung cancer. The RAL clinic is a consultant-led assessment and diagnostic service for suspected lung disease or cancer. Early access to specialist clinics for diagnosis of lung cancer is imperative to improving overall survival.
“The governance report was prompted by the non-achievement of KPIs [key performance indicators],” a spokesperson for University of Limerick Hospital Group (ULHG) told MI. “The governance report identified a number of areas with regard to process and resources that could be improved.”
Steps have been taken to “improve the service for all RAL patients” based on the findings of the governance review. These actions include the appointment of a lead consultant for the service and “a new dedicated RAL clinic” to improve KPIs. The cancer directorate team is “working closely with the RAL team” to ensure the report recommendations are implemented.
In March 2023, 47 per cent of patients attended or were offered an appointment within 10 working days of receipt of referral. The figure rose to 66 per cent in July, and 75 per cent in August.
“We will continue to develop the service and have received funding for an additional consultant post for the RAL service,” stated the spokesperson.
They also confirmed that ULHG has outsourced CT-guided lung biopsies to the Beacon Hospital, Dublin, and St James’s Hospital, Dublin. Delays in provision of these biopsies was discussed at a ULHG executive management team meeting in March, according to minutes obtained under Freedom of Information law.
“There were issues with the time to biopsy due to challenges in staffing and access to day beds to have the procedure. By outsourcing the procedures required there is currently no waiting list for CT-guided biopsies,” the spokesperson stated.