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3,000 on CT scan waiting list, prompting fears of poor outcomes


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

3,000 on CT scan waiting list, prompting fears of poor outcomes 3,000 on CT scan waiting list, prompting fears of poor outcomes

Just shy of 3,000 people are on the waiting lists for a CT scan at Galway University Hospitals (GUH), leading to concerns about late diagnosis and poor patient outcomes.

In figures released to the Galway City Tribune, Saolta, which operates GUH, confirmed that in addition to the 2,978 people waiting for a CT scan, there were 1,970 on the list for MRI scans, and 3,432 waiting for an ultrasound at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park.

Of those waiting for a CT scan, 165 people had been on the list for more than 18 months; 70 had been waiting for more than a year, while a total of 2,743 had been on the list for 12 months or less.

Some 36 people are awaiting an MRI scan for over a year-and-a-half, while 1,851 were on the waiting list for less than a year.

The list for ultrasound scans was less crowded beyond 12 months, but there were still 21 patients waiting more than 15 months to have their diagnostic test carried out.

Local councillor and Regional Health Forum member, John Connolly (FF), said one patient left waiting beyond a reasonable period was one too many.

It was “one delay after another” for those trying to access very necessary medical care, he said, as he raised concerns that surgical interventions and other vital treatments were being held up as a result of these waiting times.

“The issue here is that having the scan is only the start of the process for many. They may need a procedure afterwards and that means being added to another waiting list.

“I would be hopeful that the medical profession is prioritising the needs of patients who urgently require these scans, but it isn’t good enough,” said Cllr Connolly.

There were people in chronic pain awaiting scans, and others with undiagnosed issues being left to wait – in some cases for up to two years – and this was adding to their suffering and worry, continued the Fianna Fáil councillor.

“You have to imagine the worry and concern of that person waiting, not knowing what the problem is.

“Being left in pain just isn’t right,” he said.

Cllr Connolly said he had recently been made aware of a number of patients being called for weekend and evening scans at Merlin Park and UHG through a collaboration with Alliance Medical, a private company which carries out diagnostic scans at a number of locations across the country.

“It’s not great to see things having to be outsourced, but I would always be of the opinion that if gets the list down, then let’s do it because patients need these scans.

“It’s quite possible that the HSE is finding it difficult to recruit the necessary radiographers to carry out the scans,” he said.

Cllr Connolly said he would be raising the matter at the next meeting of Regional Health Forum West because he believed Saolta needed to provide details of how long it was taking to carry out a certain number of scans.

“What is never obvious is how many patients are being scanned in any three-month period,” he said, adding that these figures would give a better indication of the scale of the problem.

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