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2,400 people on waiting lists for colonoscopies for over 3 months

Waiting lists for colonoscopies have hit record levels but the HSE says it has plans in place to ensure access to such routine procedures.

Beaumont Hospital has the largest waiting list with 662 people waiting on colonoscopies.
Beaumont Hospital has the largest waiting list with 662 people waiting on colonoscopies.
Image: Photocall Ireland

More than 2,400 people in Ireland have been waiting on colonoscopies for over three months, new data has revealed.

Figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that waiting lists for the procedure, which is used as an early diagnosis tool for bowel cancer, reached record levels in August.

Between July and August, the waiting list for the often-vital test grew by 7 per cent.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has deemed the numbers as “unacceptable,” stating they are the highest since it started receiving the data from the NTPF 18 months ago.

Head of Advocacy and Communications at ICS, Kathleen O’Meara said, “There is no reason that people should be waiting more than three months for a colonoscopy and this has to be dealt with urgently in advance of bowel cancer screening.”

However, the society remains optimistic that the HSE has plans in place to deal with the growing crisis after it has taken over responsibility of the waiting lists from the NTPF, which is no longer accepting referrals for colonoscopies.

The HSE told the ICS:

The HSE has put in place a specific waiting list initiative which will see an additional 3,000 endoscopes (colonoscopies and upper endoscopes) take place by the end of the year, in hospitals where there are waiting lists. The aim of this initiative is to increase access to routine colonoscopies for patients.

The figures come just four months ahead of a national screening programme being rolled out across Ireland. The ICS said that if the number of people on the lists does not drop before the scheme begins, additional pressure will be put on services that are already under stress.

Waiting lists

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has the largest waiting list of 662 people, followed by St Lukes in Kilkenny with 323.

Overall, 71 people in Ireland have waited for more than a year for the test. However there are some non-urgent cases and the test is not always used as a screening for cancer.

The ICS has urged people who have been on the list for more than six weeks to contact their GPs.

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