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We've had enough of Minister Harney and Professor Keane

Speaker's Corner
“It is time for Mary Harney to go and to take Professor Keane with her. We have enough of their fiction and incompetence. They continue to pretend that all is rosy when in fact the truth is the opposite.”


Lily McMorrow

WATCHING the Oireachtas report on TV last week I just could not believe what came out of Professor Keane’s mouth when referring to referrals of worried patients from their GP to a centre of excellence for mammograms. He suggested that the system was being ‘strained’ by ‘worried women’ who have ‘vague symptoms’ being referred by ‘worried GP’s. 
I find it insulting and appalling that a person in charge of rolling out breast cancer services holds the view that woman would run to a centre of excellence at a whim. Indeed the opposite is the case. But here we have a so called ‘cancer Tsar’ making statements that will in fact deter women from seeking reassurance when concerned, the opposite of what any patient-centred healthcare programme ought to be about. That a person with such an attitude is involved in the delivery of these services is frightening in the extreme as these words most certainly call into question his priorities.
Here are some points that he and his boss might consider. We remind him, and Mary Harney, that early detection is vital and may be life-saving. Best international practise advises women to have regular breast check-ups and rightly so.
He, as a cancer specialist, should know this quite well, or has he cast aside medical ethics and totally succumbed to the money-centred ideology of Minister Harney? Or perhaps it’s only the women of the North West of Ireland who are to be excluded from such advice.
Is he so wrapped up in his golden robe of fame and believing the propaganda emanating for the Department of Heath that he ‘is doing a wonderful job, that he has totally lost sight of the real need here, which is, providing equal access to high quality services for all citizens of this State.
We are constantly encouraged by TV advertisements to be ‘breast aware’? Breast awareness must be constant and where concern arises, women must not feel any impediment to seeking professional assessment. Breast cancer can occur at any time and at any age and there are no boundaries with this disease and cancer does not readily present itself during a routine G.P visit.
The GP makes the decision to refer, not only on physical evidence, but also takes cognisance of family history.
Prof Keane is well aware of the increase in this disease in women, yet, all he has done so far is plunder and vandalise our health system by implementing a plan in a skewed and flawed way that Mary Harney dreamt up. Having no centre of excellence north of a line from Galway to Dublin is proving a total disaster and the transfer of our cancer services from Sligo to Galway is already causing hardship and suffering for patients and families in this region. This was an appalling thing to do given that the unit at Sligo General Hospital has achieved the highest standards, standards that will not be easily replicated elsewhere.
It is time for Mary Harney to go and to take Professor Keane with her. We have taken enough of their fiction and incompetence. They continue to pretend that all is rosy when in fact the truth is the opposite.
To justify what they are doing, they have resorted to spin and misleading statements, they have sought to demoralise us with such tactics as they vandalise our good hospital and in turn our towns and region. They have brought nothing but fear and hardship to us and to our families
Enough is enough, we want our services restored, and Fianna Fáil should know that the campaign will never go away until that end is reached. We are determined to ensure that Sligo and the North West region will have the best health care service available for all the people and for our children coming after us.
We are not going quietly into the night; we will fight and fight and fight some more until we are rid of this gross injustice and those that spawned it.

Lily McMorrow is a cancer survivor from Coolaney, Co Sligo.
Lily McMorrow is a cancer survivor from Coolaney, Co Sligo.