Sarcoma patients criticise new treatment arrangements

Group says the care of some sufferers may be compromised by the situation at St Luke’s

 St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin. Sarcoma patients have criticised new arrangements for treating those with the condition at the hospital. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin. Sarcoma patients have criticised new arrangements for treating those with the condition at the hospital. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Sarcoma patients have criticised new arrangements for treating those with the condition.

The Sarcoma Action Group claims the care of non-complex sarcoma patients may be compromised by the temporary treatment arrangements at St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin.

The group had campaigned unsuccessfully for the continued employment of the State’s only sarcoma specialist at St Vincent’s after her contract at the hospital ended.

Following the group’s meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris, the treatment of non-complex patients was transferred to the care of specialist Dr Alexia Bertuzzi at St Luke’s.

This arrangement is to remain in place until the appointment of a permanent sarcoma specialist at St Vincent’s.

However, Kelli Appezzato, a spokeswoman for the group, has written to the Minister to say that St Luke’s is not a suitable location to treat sarcoma patients.

She said it is predominantly a radiology hospital, not a chemotherapy hospital, and itis not set up for the care of sarcoma patients.

“Most of the chemo medicine that is given to sarcoma patients is highly dangerous and needs to be done under certain conditions.

“Sarcoma patients will sometimes need urgent access to full hospital services during treatment. There is no ICU facility there.”

The group called on the Minister to ensure that all existing patients of Dr Bertuzzi who wish to remain with her can do so, including those requiring complex treatment.

“If that means moving her from St Luke’s to another hospital, then do this without delay.”

They also want Dr Bertuzzi’s locum contract changed so she can treat newly diagnosed patients.

Facilities

In a statement, the Department of Health said all the facilities required for Dr Bertuzzi to fulfil her duties at St Luke’s have been provided since she started work there on August 2nd.

“Her previous sarcoma patients in St Vincent’s University Hospital who are suitable and wish to transfer to St Luke’s Hospital will be facilitated to do so.

“However, patients requiring certain, more intensive chemotherapy protocols with more significant side-effects will continue to be treated in St Vincent’s University Hospital.”

The recruitment process for a consultant medical oncologist with a special interest in sarcoma, based in St Vincent’s University Hospital, has commenced, a spokeswoman for the department said.