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Tipp bed delay impacts BowelScreen service

The delay in
establishing a 40-bed modular unit at South Tipperary General Hospital (STGH),
first announced by Minister for Health Simon Harris two years ago, has
contributed to the hospital pulling out of BowelScreen, reveals correspondence
from the bowel screening service’s programme manager.

According to correspondence on 12 April from
BowelScreen’s Programme Manager Ms Hilary Coffey to South/South West Hospital
Group (SSWHG) Chief Operations Officer Mr Ger O’Callaghan, STGH had been
experiencing difficulties “for some time” in meeting demand for BowelScreen
colonoscopies due to the hospital environment. Ms Coffey stated that “from
previous discussions, we had been informed that the expected delivery of their
new modular bed unit would alleviate pressure on their endoscopy service, as
there would be no demand from the emergency department to use their day beds.”

After a recent meeting, however, it was “now clear that
the difficulty in delivering the BowelScreen services is now more serious, as
it is anticipated that the modular unit will not be operational until Q1,
2020”, according to the letter, obtained from the HSE under Freedom of
Information law.

Ms Coffey referred to a projected requirement of 680
colonoscopies (605 index and 75 surveillance) for the remainder of the year.

“We now need to allocate them to an alternative
JAG-accredited hospital and I would appreciate if you would advise what
hospital you would like us to redirect them to.” In an email to Mr O’Callaghan
on 30 April, Ms Coffey asked about provisions in place for patients with
appointments. However, in response, Mr O’Callaghan stated that this matter
should be addressed by BowelScreen.

A SSWHG spokesperson said “the modular build was not a
factor in STGH ceasing the BowelScreen programme… It is anticipated that the
unit will be operational in January 2020 subject to recruitment of staff.”

According to the
HSE, it has offered all clients with a positive faecal immunochemical test
(FIT), and who choose to proceed to colonoscopy, an appointment at an
alternative BowelScreen site. “There has been no delay to any patient as a
result of this decision however we do acknowledge that this may cause some
patients inconvenience, and we are working with our colleagues in STGH and in
other hospitals to minimise same.”

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