Majella challenges Health Minister
over breast unit
BREAST cancer survivor
Majella O'Donnell has spoken out to help save the
Breast Centre North West in her adopted Donegal.
Majella (54) who underwent a double mastectomy last
year, said she was "very concerned" at claims
at Letterkenny General Hospital was being
Consultant surgeon at the clinic, leading oncologist
Michael Sugrue, took the unprecedented step of going
on the local airwaves this week to express his
concerns about the future of the service.
Mr Sugrue told Highland Radio that a failure to
appoint a second breast surgeon to his team and a
growing trend of directly referring Donegal patients
to Galway instead of Letterkenny for assessment,
were making his position untenable.
Mother-of-two Majella raised more than 600,000 euro
for the Irish Cancer Society when she had her head
shaved live on the Late, Late Show.
She received the all-clear from breast cancer last
Majella, who is married
to singer Daniel, said it was "unacceptable" to
expect patients to travel some 300km from Donegal to
"I am very concerned about the state of Donegal
breast cancer care at Letterkenny General Hospital.
It is unacceptable to have to travel to Galway,"
Majella tweeted her 2,700 followers yesterday.
And in a direct tweet to the Minister for Health Leo
Varadkar, she asked: "@campaignforleo please sort
resources for breast cancer patients at Letterkenny
General Hospital. How can you expect patients to
travel four hours to Galway?"
The Saolta University
Hospitals Group said it is committed to maintaining
the breast cancer service in Letterkenny but said
changes are being made to the patient referral
High level talks between management and public
representatives took place yesterday as pressure
grows for the service to be properly resourced.
Letterkenny has a well-established diagnostic breast
cancer service which culminated in the official
opening of the Breast Centre North West in 2008.
The clinic offers mammograms, ultrasounds and
biopsies and sees some 1500 patients annually.
Currently, about 65 patients who have been waiting
longer than 84 days for assessment have been offered
an earlier appointment in Galway.