Over 1,000 people to receive delayed cancer diagnosis after cancelled screenings, IPA says

ireland
Over 1,000 People To Receive Delayed Cancer Diagnosis After Cancelled Screenings, Ipa Says Over 1,000 People To Receive Delayed Cancer Diagnosis After Cancelled Screenings, Ipa Says
The Irish Patients’ Association says screening activity between 2019 and 2020 was down 55 per cent.
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Sarah Mooney

More than 1,000 people will receive a delayed diagnosis of cancer due to the impact of Covid-19 on national screening services, according to the Irish Patients’ Association (IPA).

In an analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on national screening services, the cross-disease patient advocacy group said screening activity between 2019 and 2020 was down 55 per cent, from 719,503 to 322,229.

According to data obtained from the National Screening Service by the IPA in February, a total of 397,274 fewer scans were carried out during the pandemic across all screening programmes.

The IPA estimates this drop will result in a total of 50,660 people across the various screening services not being recalled for further investigation.

Ultimately, it estimates this will result in 1,017 cases of delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In the Cervical Check programme, it estimates that the detection of 9,094 low grade and 1,786 high grade abnormalities will also be delayed.

Non-Covid care

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According to the data obtained by the IPA, Breast Check screenings in 2020 were down some 67 per cent on the previous year, with 114,682 less scans carried out.

Cervical Check screenings were down 51 per cent, Bowel Check screenings down 58 per cent, and Diabetic Retina screenings down 42 per cent.

In a statement, the IPA said: “Covid-19 has had a major impact on all non-Covid care since its first appearance in Ireland on Feb 29th, 2020.

“Elective operations and outpatient appointments have soared way above the already high levels they were at the day before Covid-19.

This means that some 1.2 million people are now waiting for treatment, assessments, and scans

“With almost 800,000 public patients on various hospital waiting lists, today, based on detailed information the IPA has received from the National Screening Service in the past week, we can add a further 397,274 people to this historic number which represent the number of people who should have had scans for breast, cervical, and bowel cancers and diabetic retina scans in 2020 when compared to 2019.

“This means that some 1.2 million people are now waiting for treatment, assessments, and scans. The management of this impending surge needs to be tightly managed.”

The IPA is encouraging all those offered scans to take up the offer: “In particular anyone who has any symptoms should present to their GP and not wait for a screening invitation or appointment.”

The group has called on the Minister for Health to set up a Nphet-style committee for the management of non-Covid care, “so that we can be prepared to take coordinated control of these waiting lists, to save lives and improve the quality of patients’ lives.”

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