Prostate Rapid Access Clinic urgently required at LUH - Donegal Action on Cancer Care

'End discrimination against Donegal prostate patients' - Betty Holmes

Letterkenny University Hospital

Donegal Action for Cancer Care called for a prostate rapid access clinic at LUH.

A Donegal health action group is calling for a Prostate Rapid Access Clinic for Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH).

Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) is urging prospective general election candidates and people living in Donegal, to make the Prostate Rapid Access Clinic a key election issue.

Speaking to Donegal Live, DACC chairperson, Betty Holmes said the “prostate needs of Donegal men must be an election issue.”

Ms Holmes said: “Why should the men of Donegal be discriminated against? Why should they be made travel to the Hospital in Galway?

“There are eight Prostate Rapid Access Clinics in Ireland: four in Dublin, one in Galway, one in Cork, one in Waterford and one in Limerick but none at LUH.

“We had a prearranged meeting with Deputy McConalogue TD on Monday, January 13, regarding this very serious matter. As there was media speculation the Taoiseach would make an announcement on Sunday regarding the General Election, we told him DACC would be making the prostate needs of the men of Donegal an election issue.

“DACC first raised the need for a Prostate Rapid Access Clinic at Letterkenny Hospital in 2009. At that time we were clearly told by the National Cancer Control Programme, 'NO.' DACC put this matter back on the regional and national agenda in 2016, with the opening of the North West Cancer Centre in Derry and radiotherapy now available closer to home. Prostate issues and Donegal men's needs are being totally ignored at regional and national level,” said Ms Holmes.

Ms Holmes added DACC strongly believed the National Cancer Control Programme, Galway University Hospital; and the Saolta University Hospital Group are “deliberately downgrading” prostate and urology services.

Ms Holmes said: “DACC strongly believes the National Cancer Control Programme, Galway University Hospital and the Saolta University Hospital Group are deliberately downgrading, with the intention to remove prostate and urology services, from LUH. We think the same goes for other services too. Look at the wait for the stroke unit.

“Why are Donegal men being discriminated against? We know that Galway University Hospital have said that Donegal prostate patients are not to be seen at LUH. They are to be referred to Galway Hospital.

“Prostate cancer affects elderly men, most in their 70s and they have to attend the Rapid Access Prostate Clinic in Galway. In the past, men over the age of 70 were assessed in LUH. However, in 2016 the National Cancer Control Programme arranged that the patient pathway would be there would be sent to Galway for assessment and Galway Hospital would then refer them to Derry for Radiotherapy.

“Patients, again mostly elderly when they attend Galway Hospital, are being advised to have their treatment in Galway University Hospital not at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry. DACC knows the machines in Galway University Hospital are old approx. 15 years, compared to the new machines in Derry,” said Ms Holmes.

According to DACC, LUH carries out Transperineal biopsies of the Prostate, where Galway University Hospital do Transrectal biopsies.

Betty Holmes said: “Transrectal biopsies have a high infection rate as opposed to Transperineal biopsies, which can be carried out at Letterkenny Hospital and as no infection rate.

“DACC is also questioning why it is Donegal men who have to be referred by Letterkenny Hospital for a Prostate MRI at AFFIDEA in Letterkenny have to pay in excess of €200, whereas, if they have it in Galway, referred by Galway Hospital to Alliance Medical, it is free paid by the HSE?

“We need an agreement with the HSE and AFFIDEA for Donegal patients. Donegal men deserve to be seen at Letterkenny Hospital.

DACC strongly believes that, over many years, key cancer and other services are being deliberately being taken out or being downgraded at LUH.

“We recently had the announcement of a new big hospital build for Galway University Hospital. It begs the question what other key services will be taken from Letterkenny Hospital? And with Donegal having a minister, four Donegal Deputies and two Senators, who are all men, DACC asks, 'Why have we not secured a Donegal Rapid Access Clinic at LUH for the men of Donegal? It is time to end the discrimination against Donegal men who need prostate services closer to home,” said Ms Holmes.

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