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The detail is outlined in a BowelScreen Programme Status Update paper dated September 2017. The paper, which was prepared for a HSE/Department of Health meeting, was obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request to the HSE.
According to the document: “A letter was received notifying of intention to withdraw, citing funding issues. The unit cited a total of €770K that should have been received by the unit from the BowelScreen programme over a number of years, but has never been invested/used in the local endoscopy unit.”
“The programme team has entered discussions with the local management team regarding additional lists over and above the MoU requirement. This has been received positively and follow up conversations will take place in the coming days.”
In other correspondence, STGH General Manager Ms Maria Barry wrote to BowelScreen’s Programme Manager Ms Hilary Coffey on 5 September 2017, outlining the “requirements for our service to meet the target activity level within the wait time KPIs”.
This correspondence followed a teleconference in August 2017, when it was highlighted that “STGH is compromised with internal capacity due to the demands of unscheduled care” and had “limited day ward capacity”.
The hospital had identified some internal capacity and required funding of €170,000 for equipment, explained Ms Barry.
She further advised that nursing management was addressing deficits with an international recruitment drive and that the hospital remained “fully supportive of the BowelScreen programme”.
A South/South West Hospital Group spokesperson said STGH management “can confirm that it has never informed BowelScreen that it was withdrawing from this screening programme”.
On funding apparently not invested in the endoscopy unit, the spokesperson said “there is no further comment on this”.
BowelScreen mandates that a minimum of 90 per cent of clients with a positive faecal immunochemical test (FIT) result be offered a colonoscopy within a four-week time-frame.
From 1 January to 31 May 2018, the figure at STGH was 51.61 per cent, just below the national average of 53.18 per cent.
The HSE had not commented by press time.