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Growing fears for Donegal's world class breast unit 26.02.15

THERE are growing fears that the Breast Cancer Unit in Letterkenny is to close with services centralised in Galway.
Donegal's only breast cancer consultant Michael Sugrue said his position at the hospital was being made untenable.
He claimed that among the measures aimed at closing or downgrading the unit, were a refusal to appoint a second surgeon and the increasing referral of patients to Galway instead of Letterkenny.
Some 65 patients who have been waiting longer than 84 days for assessment at the Letterkenny breast clinic have been offered an earlier appointment in Galway.
Mr Michael Sugrue.
Mr Sugrue was the second senior consultant to speak out about the ongoing pressure on resources at Letterkenny General Hospital.
The Saolta University Hospitals Group said it is committed to maintaining the breast cancer service in Letterkenny but said changes were being made to the patient referral system.
Mr Sugrue spoke of his concerns in an interview with Highland Radio this week.
Inishowen T.D., Charlie McConalogue said the diminishment of the local life-saving service is "scandalous".
He said he was very concerned at Saolta's plans to redirect Donegal patients from their GPs to Galway rather than the Letterkenny Breast Cancer Unit.
He called on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to guarantee the future of breast cancer services at Letterkenny and to ensure that a second breast surgeon is appointed without delay.
Deputy McConalogue said: “Services at Letterkenny General Hospital are being diminished before our eyes. This deterioration is prompting resignations and media appearances by eminent surgeons appealing to the Government to provide the necessary resources to improve standards."
He added: “In the wake of Mr Kevin Moran’s unprecedented resignation in protest at the lack of resources at the hospital, we now have another senior and highly qualified surgeon saying he cannot sustain an essential service unless additional resources are allocated."
He added: “I look forward to meeting with the Department of Health on Friday, and with representatives from Saolta and Letterkenny Hospital Management together with Donegal Oireachtas members and Donegal Action for Cancer Care, where I will be reiterating my concerns. It is imperative that a second consultant is recruited at Letterkenny General Hospital without delay."
Meanwhile, Donegal patients referred to the breast clinic in Galway have been urged to apply for a grant to help them with the cost of travel.
The Irish Cancer Society is calling on women to avail of a Travel to Care Grant.
Patients are asked to contact the society's freefone helpline 18000 200 700.
The society also expressed concern at the delay in waiting times for referrals and has called on the National Cancer Control Programme to deliver a comprehensive long term plan for cancer services in Co Donegal.
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