Harris ‘devastated’ for those diagnosed with bowel cancer

Susie Long’s husband says public confidence in BowelScreen programme must be maintained

Minister for Health Simon Harris said he is "devastated" for the families of the 13 people who were diagnosed with bowel cancer having previously been given the all clear at Wexford General Hospital.

“I am devastated for the families. It is important that in the midst of this that we don’t underestimate the BowelScreen programme - it saves lives.”

Mr Harris said it was important that people continue to avail of the programme. A f inal review of the incident has been published on Thursday.

The patients’ families, six of them from Co Wexford and seven from Counties Carlow and Kilkenny, were informed on Wednesday of the review’s finding that their cancers were missed.


All 13 patients were screened by the same consultant, who has been on leave since the issue was uncovered two years ago. He does not accept the findings of the review.

The total of 615 colonoscopies read by the consultant were reviewed after concerns were raised, and 401 patients were sent for further colonoscopies, according to the review.

Patients affected include those attending as part of the national BowelScreen programme and patients referred for colonoscopies by their GP because of their symptoms.

“I wouldn’t like the importance of the programme to be forgotten,” he told RTE’s News at One.

He said that the review published by the Health Service Executive (HSE) on Thursday highlighted that patients have been at the centre of the process to find out what had happened. But that an external review will now take place.

“The HSE says they have identified one clinician who has now been reported to the medical council.

External review

“An external review will take place to ensure that every quality assurance is in place, not just in Wexford.

“My priority is making sure this never happens again that’s why there will be an external review.

“Today is the end of the internal process that began in late 2014 when the two cases were found. A huge body of work has been done since then.”

Susie Long

Earlier the husband of the late Susie Long said public confidence in the BowelScreen programme must be maintained.

Conor MacLiam whose wife died from bowel cancer that was not diagnosed in time for treatment, told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that he was saddened and disappointed for the families of those affected by the cancer misdiagnosis situation in Wexford General Hospital.

“It is very important that the BowelScreen service is developed further and that people have full confidence in it,” Mr MacLiam said.

He said that waiting lists for colonoscopies must be tackled. In his wife’s case she had to wait seven months for a colonoscopy and by the time she was diagnosed she was terminally ill.

“There needs to be confidence in the service. I would hope the system is robust enough that any mistakes are caught quickly as early diagnosis is important. Anything that puts the people off is not good, ” he said.

'Probable missed' cancers

The review categorises the 13 cases as “probable missed” cancers. One of the patients died before the process began. The hospital has apologised to patients for any failings in the services provided to them.