Questions continue to surround the promised appointment.
Health Minister Simon Harris has failed to provide any new assurances that a second permanent Breast Surgeon will be appointed to Letterkenny University Hospital, according to Pearse Doherty TD.
A second surgeon was appointed on a locum basis in July 2017, which was hailed as a key move in the delivery of cancer services to women in Donegal.
However, Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty recently asked Minister Harris to outline the progress being made to secure the much needed consultant post for the hospital. In his reply, the Health Minister would only confirm that the requirements of the Symptomatic Breast clinic continue to be assessed, before reaffirming that a second surgeon remains assigned to LUH but only on a locum basis.
The response has come under criticism by Deputy Doherty who said: “For years now campaigners and patient advocacy groups have worked tirelessly to lobby for the appointment of a badly needed second permanent breast surgeon as part of cancer services here at Letterkenny Hospital.
“Then before the last General Election Minister Joe McHugh announced, to much fanfare, that a second breast surgeon had finally been secured for the hospital, a statement which proceeded months of stalemate before it was finally confirmed that a locum consultant would finally take up the position in July 2017 before assurances were given that a permanent appointment would follow.
“Then shockingly it was confirmed to Sinn Féin almost exactly a year ago today that the hospital had still not received formal approval for a permanent second consultant breast surgeon.
“Twelve months on from that bombshell and we are still no further forward, in fact, this reply which I’ve now received from the Minister merely states that a locum consultant remains employed at the hospital on a temporary pay roll basis.”
Minister Harris offered no fresh hope that a permanent consultant would be recruited, according to Deputy Doherty, which he said was another an example of ‘false hope’ given by the government.
Mr Doherty said: “When will the Minister come clean and tell the people of Donegal the truth about what is really happening with the post?
“I pledge to continue to work closely alongside all stakeholders, including local patient groups, to keep the needs of the service at the top of the agenda because this situation and uncertainty surrounding this post cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”