Cancer campaigner Betty Holmes has raised serious concerns over revelations that just half of patients referred as urgent breast cancer cases to Letterkenny University Hospital in 2017 were seen within the two week guidelines.

More than 1,140 women were marked as urgent cases last year who, according to HIQA guidelines, should be seen by the breast clinic within a fortnight.

However, it has emerged that 50% of cases at LUH were not treated within the crucial two week timeframe.

Betty Holmes of Donegal Action for Cancer Care said that these figures represent another step in downgrading breast cancer services at Letterkenny University Hospital.

Ms Holmes told Donegal Daily: “We are delighted that radiotherapy is available at Altnagelvin now, but we see more commitment to developing services at Altnagelvin than at Letterkenny University Hospital.

“Everybody wants to talk about developing services at Altnagelvin. This is another example of the powers that be turning their back on Letterkenny.

“We have written to the Minister for Health to follow up on our concerns that 49% of the 1,142 urgent patients are not being seen inside of the recommended HIQA guidelines.

“We are asking the Minister who is liable if these patients are found to have cancer.”

Ms Holmes said the DACC have fought on a voluntary basis since 2005 for the improvement of services at the LUH Breast Cancer Clinic, but they have seen no commitment being made.

It emerged last year that one fifth of patients referred to the Symptomatic Breast Clinic at LUH were waiting for over a year to be seen. Of the 732 patients referred to the service in 2017, 143 women were on the waiting list for more than one year.

Today’s figures on urgent referrals take the concerns to a different level, said Ms Holmes.

“This breach of guidelines is really scary, and it all comes back to liability,” said Ms Holmes.