St Luke’s Hospital currently has the second-highest number of people who have been waiting more than three months for a potentially life-saving colonoscopy.
Some 323 patients are waiting to have the test conducted at the Kilkenny hospital, and the total nationwide is 2,418 people waiting for the test that can detect bowel cancer and other conditions, according to new data from the Irish Cancer Society.
But these are not just numbers, they are people – and particularly people who can’t afford private health insurance that could enable them to be tested immediately, said local campaigner Conor MacLiam, whose late wife Susie Long died in 2007 from bowel cancer that was not detected early enough to treat. She had waited seven months for a colonoscopy.
“I am horrified at the doubling of the numbers waiting for colonoscopies over the last year,” said Mr MacLiam, who campaigned on the issue as a Socialist Party candidate in this year’s general election.
“Waiting more than three months for this test inevitably means that a certain number of (people) will be diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer and face a death sentence, just as my wife Susie did when she was finally diagnosed after a seven-month wait. These are the ordinary people who are being sacrificed on the altar of austerity, who are paying with their lives for an under-funded health service whilst billions of euro are still being poured into Anglo-Irish Bank.”
The Health Service Executive has said it is planning to have an additional 3,000 colonoscopies and related checks carried out by the end of this year in hospitals where there are waiting lists. The HSE also maintains that all urgent colonoscopies are performed within four weeks.