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Responding to Professor Robert Steele’s review of Safety Incident Management Report into missed cancers at Wexford General Hospital, the Irish Cancer Society has stated that the review raises serious questions about how incidents are reported, why staff concerns weren’t acted on promptly, and how long Clinician Y would have continued to perform colonoscopies had two surgeons at other hospitals not intervened.

The Society has expressed its confidence in the BowelScreen service, which it has said is “truly transformative” and “save lives”. In light of the serious incident at Wexford General Hospital, and the handling of staff concerns, the society has called for immediate action from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to implement the report’s recommendations, establish a formal process for expressing concerns based on the National Clinical Assessment Service in the UK.

Commenting on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society, Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy, expressed his deepest sympathies with the families of the two patients who have passed away, offering support to patients currently dealing with cancer diagnoses as a result of the recall of over four hundred patients at Wexford General Hospital.

He stated: “This incident has turned the lives of many families and individuals upside-down, and we have to remember the significant distress it has caused”.

Regarding the review, Mr. Buggy said that Professor Steele’s review unfortunately raises more questions than it answers. He stated: “Unfortunately, the report raises serious questions for local and national governance structures about why staff concerns did not prompt an urgent response. It is evident, in light of Prof. Steele’s report that mechanisms for raising concerns need to be strengthened, so that staff who have legitimate clinical concerns are listened to, and their concerns are followed up in a timely manner with appropriate action.

“Had the concerns of the HSE employee been addressed early in this case, it is likely that the poor performance could have been identified and acted on promptly, improving outcomes for those undergoing colonoscopy procedures”.

Prof. Steele, in his report, recommends the establishment of a National Clinical Assessment Service, as used in the UK, might be considered, a recommendation that the society firmly supports.