Appeal to break down ‘wall of silence’ at Letterkenny hospital

THE IRISH Patients’ Association (IPA) have begun a campaign for an independent inquiry to look at cancer treatment at Letterkenny University Hospital, similar to the review carried out by Dr Gabriel Scally into CervicalCheck.
Speaking to the Donegal News Stephen McMahon, co-founder of the IPA, said there are too many unanswered questions from the recently published report into gynaecology services which unearthed serious failings at the hospital. Mr McMahon said there have been “walls of silence” at LUH over the years and is now appealing to women who are unhappy with their treatment at the hospital to contact the IPA.
He is working with Bristol-based consultant Dr Margaret MacMahon, who brought the failings to light following the death of her sister. Together they want to give a voice to the women in Donegal impacted by the scandal.
The IPA is also calling for an implementation group to be set up at LUH to drive the recommendations in the report and they want patient advocates to be involved in this committee.
“In this day and age patient voices must be heard,” said Mr McMahon. “That’s the least we can do, women have died.”
The IPA is also supporting calls for an audit of the performance of gynaecology services nationwide to establish if Letterkenny is the exception or if there are similar experiences across the state. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly for this nationwide audit in the Dáil last week.
The Letterkenny review looked at six cases between 2010 and 2019 where women suffered a suspected, missed or delayed diagnosis of endometrial cancer. There were 133 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer over that period and 38 of these patients had to wait longer than 100 days for diagnosis or treatment. These women and their families were provided with a report on their case by Saolta. However Mr McMahon said a number of people are not happy with the report they received.
“There must be a way for their dissatisfaction to be acted upon,” he said.
“We are appealing to any women or families concerned about their care to contact us by emailing We will put them in contact with Dr MacMahon so they can have their voices heard.”
Mr McMahon said for too long concerns at LUH have been “falling on deaf ears” and said the 80,000 women in Donegal that will depend on the gynaecology service at some point deserve the same standards as elsewhere in the country.
“There are a lot of questions unanswered. The families and the women affected,  particularly for the women that have died,  the least they deserve is timely answers.”

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