Cancer examinations missed as patients fail to get Covid tests

One in five examinations for suspected cancer at a Northern Ireland hospital had to be cancelled at the weekend because patients failed to attend for Covid tests beforehand.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 12:33 pm

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust is making an urgent appeal for people to undergo a coronavirus swab test 72 hours before their procedure.

Last weekend the Ulster Hospital was running “red flag” suspect cancer endoscopy investigations, but 20% of the entire capacity was lost due to patients not turning up for their swab appointment.

Under current guidance, patients must attend for a swab less than 72 hours before their procedure, even if they have been vaccinated.

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Empty hospital beds

The trust said that if people fail to attend, it is too late to offer another patient an appointment as there is insufficient time to organise a swab.

David Robinson, director of hospitals services at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, said: “I would wish to reassure patients that our elective surgical/diagnostic units are Covid-free.

“It is important that every patient attends for a swab to ensure that their procedure can go ahead.

“This is crucial as every appointment counts in our objective to review our waiting lists.”

A hospital bed

Northern Ireland currently has the worst hospital waiting list figures in the UK.

Statistics published last month showed more than 335,000 people are waiting for a first consultant-led appointment.

More than half of those – 189,753 – have been waiting longer than a year.

A surgeon