Public patients wait up to 25 times longer than private patients for cancer care

Irish Cancer Society ran the report

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A new report finds that public patients are waiting up to 25 times longer for cancer care than those paying for private healthcare.

A report by the Irish Cancer Society - in today's Irish Times - performed an in-depth survey of GPs found that in some cases, public patients have had to wait up to:

- 480 days for an ultrasound

- 360 days for an endoscopy

- 280 days for an MRI

- 240 days for a brain scan

- 200 days for a chest scan.

On average, public patients have a wait of between 119-125 days for an MRI of the spine, musculoskeletal system or brain, while private patients are being tested in less than a week.

According to the report, close to 90% of GPs surveyed said that the patient's ability to pay affected their access to referral services, with just under half of the population in possession of private health insurance, a further 39% hold a medical card, while the remainder of the population has access to public healthcare but with little or no support for the costs involved.

Speaking on the Breakfast Show, Donal Buggy, head of services and advocacy with the Iris Cancer Society, told Chris Donoghue about the various findings in the report.

"They're experiencing delayed investigations and referrals and the primary difference between the patients' population is the ability to pay. Almost 90% of GP's feel that ability to pay affects access."

Donal also explained how 60% of patients don't have private healthcare and physicians are being forced to devise methods that will give their patients the best possible chance of avoiding lengthy waits.

"Four out of five family doctors have sent patients to an emergency department in an effort to bypass waiting times and this is obviosuly unsustainable. As we know, there are significant pressures on emergency departments."

"GPs are obviously and rightly worried about their patients in that instance. They're trying to do their very best for them, they're trying to ensure that they get early access to diagnosis because they know that early access can be the difference between life and death."