Lung cancer: Under half of patients seen on time in major hospital

Just 46% ‘offered an appointment to attend’ clinic in July within the 10-day target time

Less than half of patients urgently requiring lung cancer appointments at the largest hospital in the midwest are being seen on time.

The University of Limerick Hospitals Group has blamed the delays on a rise in new patients attending its rapid access clinic.

Just 46 per cent of patients were “offered an appointment to attend” the clinic in July within the 10-day target time, according to the hospital group. It said 91 per cent were offered an appointment within 15 working days, and 97 per cent within 20 days.

Lung cancer is often diagnosed late and has poor prognosis, so early detection is vital in order to maximise treatment options and improve outcomes.


A Lancet study published last week found five-year survival rates for lung cancer in Ireland have doubled over the past 20 years, but are still under 20 per cent.

Last month, HSE chief executive Paul Reid told the board of the health authority seven of the eight cancer centres around the country were compliant with these targets but that "one hospital was challenged to match referrals with available capacity".

The HSE later confirmed University Hospital Limerick has faced “challenges” in 2018 and 2019 as capacity at its clinic was not adequate for the number of referrals.

The hospital group said new patient attendances at the clinic had increased significantly, it said. “There were 543 new attendances in 2017, 603 new attendances in 2018 and the projected out-turn this year is approximately 700, amounting to a projected increase in activity of 29 per cent over two years.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.