LETTERKENNY University Hospital is appointing a Clinical Director of Gynaecology in an effort to improve services in the department.
The move comes ten months after the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published a damning report which found that despite additional staffing and funding resources being provided to the service further action was needed to safeguard women’s health and to address weaknesses in governance and oversight.
HIQA’s review was carried out following incidents of delayed diagnosis of endometrial cancer. A Saolta commissioned audit published in June 2020, which looked at cases between 2010 and 2019, found that nearly three in every ten women diagnosed with endometrial cancer in LUH over that period faced some form of delay and nearly one in every five women had a delay with a potentially significant consequence.
In August 2020 the Price report was released which found women who suffered delayed cancer diagnosis were wrongly triaged and not booked in for follow up appointments in some cases.
Since HIQA’s findings were published a number of measures have been taken in an effort to address the historic failings.
This week health care group, Saolta confirmed that it is currently progressing the appointment of a Clinical Director for Gynaecology Services. It it understood the new Clinical Director is a Dublin-based consultant with considerable experience in the field.
“Over the past two years significant work has taken place to improve processes, access, waiting times and the quality of care provided in LUH Gynaecology Services,” said a spokesperson for Saolta.
“The appointment of a Clinical Director will further progress the work to enhance the services as part of ongoing efforts to ensure the highest quality of care is provided for women accessing Gynaecology Services at the hospital.”
Dr Margaret MacMahon, who has been campaigning since the death of her sister Carol in 2015 after a missed cancer diagnosis, said the move to appoint a Clinical Director should have been the first action taken by the hospital.
“The HSE has been aware of serious failings in that department since 2015 including avoidable deaths going back over the years,” said the Bristol-based Consultant.
“They have commissioned various reports including one by a UK expert but according to the HIQA report published last year they have still failed to achieve the most basic of targets.
“The handling of complaints, clinical incidents and individual case reviews has been far below an acceptable standard.
“In my opinion this new development could be the first real step forward. A clinical director that is external to the Galway Saolta team and with considerable experience.
“That is the first action and not the last action that should have been taken when the first external review was published.”