Belfast Telegraph

It's unacceptable, says patient watchdog

By Claire Williamson

Patients with cancer should be fast-tracked directly into cancer wards rather than waiting in A&E, a watchdog has said.

Maeve Hully, chief executive of the Patient and Client Council, said what happened to Maria Gibney was "unacceptable".

"We have been working with cancer patients and the Belfast trust to agree a system where patients with cancer can be seen and treated quickly in an emergency," she said. "This system has clearly not worked in this situation. Patients with cancer should not have to tolerate long waits in emergency departments but should be fast-tracked through the department or directly into cancer wards."

Chair of the Stormont health committee Maeve McLaughlin said the case shone a light on problems within our A&E units. "There is clearly something wrong with the system of our emergency departments," she said. "This stuff should not be rocket science; there are practical steps that could be put in place."

Liz Atkinson, of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, added: "We would like to see robust systems in place to ensure cancer patients get the treatment they need in a timely manner."

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