THERE was no radiologist available on Tuesday morning to read mammograms for women attending the Breast Cancer Clinic at Letterkenny University Hospital, the Donegal News has learned.
One of the patients was Letterkenny woman Lynn McDevitt who, together with her husband Eamon, runs the Good and New Donegal Cancer Bus service.
“We have enough things going on in our minds without having to worry about having to wait on the results of a mammogram. We were told it could be September or October before we get the results. It’s simply not good enough,” Ms McDevitt said.
A cancer patient, the Letterkenny mother called on the HSE to put in place the offer of proper, long-term contracts in a bid to entice medical professionals to work in the hospital.
“One of the radiologists, Dr Katherine McGowan who retired recently, is coming back on a short-term basis to lend a helping hand while Dr Conall Mac a Bhaird is another man who had retired but is helping out too.
“Letterkenny is one of three hospitals in the country looking for radiologists at this moment in time but we’re only offering a one-year contract. It’s a short term fix all the time,” Ms McDevitt claimed.
“Our new breast cancer surgeon has only been given a one-year contract and there-in lies the real problem. Why are we only able to attract retired consultants for these posts? Why would anyone uproot their family and come to Letterkenny for one year? We need to be offering at least a five-year contract to give the relevant person the necessary time to settle in the locality. This isn’t about embargoes. These positions are all already in situ. We’re just getting the crumbs from the table – as always,” she added.
A spokesman for the HSE confirmed that LUH has been unable to fill all of its consultant radiologists posts as there is a worldwide demand for the specialists.
“There are seven posts available and the hospital currently has four full-time radiologists (two permanent and two locum) and one part time radiologist. Interviews for one of the substantive vacant positions were held last week and a candidate has been offered the post at LUH.
“Mammograms performed on Tuesday will be reported later in the week. There are no clinical risks associated with this practice,” he said.
“Contract for one year or less are the norm for locum candidates,” he added.
The figures, released to Councillor Ciaran Brogan this week, show an increase of 13.3% on the previous year.