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Staffing levels are not to blame for delayed diagnoses at University Hospital Kerry where a review of some 46,000 scans is under way, the hospital’s clinical director said on Monday.
The review involving more than 26,000 patients was undertaken after the hospital was notified of three delayed diagnoses among patients.
The South/ South West Hospital Group, of which the hospital is a member, confirmed it was investigating patient safety concerns after being notified of the three serious reportable events. It is understood that all the scans, including X-rays, cat scans and ultrasounds, relate to work carried out by one individual who is no longer working at the hospital.
In a statement, the group said a “look back” process with independent oversight was now under way on “a portion of radiology investigations carried out between March 2016 and July 2017”. A helpline is open from 9am on 1800-742-900 for those who believe they may be affected.
Dr Claire O’Brien, clinical director at the hospital, said resources in the radiology department were not the issue at the centre of the review, but because of the work on an individual who doesn’t work there anymore. “Our view is that the department is safe and the service is appropriate”, she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
The review at the Tralee hospital started at the end of October and, as of last Friday, a total of 18,000 had been reviewed. Only a very small number have resulted in patients being called back.
Dr O’Brien said patients who had X-rays, scans and ultrasounds carried out in the hospital between March 2016 and July 2017 were not informed of the “look back” as it was thought the numbers involved would be smaller. She added the hospital did not want to alarm other patients.
Paul Bell, divisional organiser for Siptu’s health division, said that the trade union had expressed concern about staffing levels at University Hospital Kerry in November 2016.
He told Morning Ireland their concerns were ignored by the HSE.
Siptu highlighted the shortage in staff, resources, equipment and the way in which the radiology department was being managed.
He added that in December 2016 it was determined the correct staffing level for the department was 24. At the moment it is 22, but Mr Bell maintained a further four staff are required to cover various forms of leave and training.
He pointed out in Mullingar and Tullamore hospitals, which are of comparable size, the staff levels in the radiology departments are 27 and 30 respectively.
Mr Bell added management has chosen to ignore concerns about staffing levels. He called on the HSE to publish a review of the department.