Head of South West Hospitals Group argues cancer scan waiting list is a nationwide problem

Gerard O'Callaghan spoke to Newstalk about the claims of non-private patients having to wait 25 times longer for the same care

Head of South West Hospitals Group argues cancer scan waiting list is a nationwide problem

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Gerard O’Callaghan, Chief Operating Officer for the South/South West Hospital group, spoke to Newstalk's Lunchtime show today in relation to the recent debate over public and private waiting times.

A recent report stated that those on public health waiting lists could spend 25 times longer than those on private waiting lists for important health scans.

O'Callaghan states that while a GP not referring a public patient is common practice across the country, it is a resource issue as most MRI machines are run by private companies in public hospitals: "You can pay to get scanned or else wait and the get scanned in the same machine in a year or more via public list."

With a delay of up to three years to get MRI scan in certain areas, O'Callaghan said that this is not unique to Cork. He stated that similar problems affect South Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford, Kerry and added that "I'm satisfied it is the same across the country".

Simply installing more MRI machines won't solve the issue however, as historically the cost of putting in an MRI scanner was greater than a small hospital could afford.

You can listen to the full interview below:

O'Callaghan was responding to an interview on Thursday on Newstalk, in which the National Cancer Control Programme says that patients with urgent referrals for suspected cancer are seen within days in most parts of the state.

However, a Cork based GP, Dr Nick Flynn, stated that he could refer private patients to get scanned, but not public patients.

"Rather than giving access from GP to the MRI scan so that we can expedite the patient's diagnosis, we're asked to add the patient to [...] the outpatient list, which is two years. And after they see the consultant, the scan is ordered in any case."