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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Breast Clinic ‘is run on a knife-edge' admits Northern Trust official

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s breast clinic has seen 82 patients per week in the last 10 weeks, board members were told at a meeting on Thursday (25 November).

Fifteen per cent of women given a referral were seen within 14 days during October.

According to the latest figures published by the Department of Health, in the Northern Trust, 14.7 per cent of breast referrals were seen within 14 days in January; 24.5 per cent in February; 11.2 per cent in March, 17.7 per cent in April; 33.4 per cent in May and 99.5 per cent in June.

Kevin McMahon, interim director of surgery and clinical services, reported that the service lost two clinics last month, equating to 40 patients.

“It runs on a knife edge,” he said.

He added that he would like to set up a weekend clinic.

He indicated that the Northern Trust has 22 per cent more breast referrals than the next busiest Trust.

He went on to say that a new radiologist was appointed by the Northern Trust on Wednesday and a new surgeon will join the team in February.

Commenting on critical care surgery overall, he stated:

“We can’t maintain this hand to mouth position in terms of critical care. It is not sustainable.

“We are expecting an increase in Covid admissions but equally we can’t continue a downturn in critical surgery.

“The impact on the Northern Trust has been disproportionate. We are running in the Northern Trust 34 per cent of our in-patient theatre.

“We are confident if we have the funding, we can secure the staff,” he added.

According to figures published by the Department of Health, at the end of September, there were 32,573 patients in the Northern Trust awaiting a diagnosis with 22.5 per cent waiting more than 26 weeks.

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