John Hopkins hospital is providing its patients with “patients with no idea that they have been diagnosed with cancer”, it has emerged.
The National Health Service (NHS) confirmed it has “adopted” an “open-door” policy to “guarantee” that patients with no symptoms will be referred to the “most appropriate specialist” for a test or treatment.
The policy was first announced last year and has been criticised by some as a “shambolic” failure.
John Hopkins hospital, which has a reputation for “surgical precision”, has admitted it “missed a critical window” when it decided not to refer patients with symptoms.
It said the decision was based on “unanswered questions” about what tests to offer and how best to handle them.
The NHS has faced calls to do more to help those with no cancer diagnosis and those who are ill, including by ensuring they receive the appropriate treatments.
Dr John Ritter, head of NHS operations, said the “open door” policy was a “step in the right direction”.
“We are not a cancer treatment centre, and our patients do not get tested,” he said.
“We have worked closely with the Irish Department of Health to address the needs of our patients.
We have worked with the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop a comprehensive plan to deliver these services and to help ensure patients receive the best care possible.”
Dr Ritter said the policy was designed to help the hospital’s “crowded” waiting room and “in-house testing” staff, which he said was an important component of its response to the crisis.
“These measures will ensure that our patients are seen and treated according to their diagnosis,” he added.
“Patients are not being told to wait on a specialist to test, but they are being informed of the tests they may require and offered the opportunity to be tested or referred to specialist care.”NHS health secretary Simon Harris said the system was “in a very good place” and there were many people with cancer who had received no tests or treatment at all.
“This is a critical time for our NHS and we need to do everything possible to make sure everyone gets the care they need and deserve,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I have been assured that we will provide support to patients, and to our NHS partners, in this period of transition.”NHS is taking action to provide care and support for those who have been referred to it and their families, and we will continue to do so.
“Dr Harris said there was “a great deal of work to do” to ensure the system worked as it should.”
It is a challenging time for the NHS in terms of delivering services,” he explained.”
As the Irish economy recovers, and the economy grows, we are investing more in our NHS.
“Dr Roberta Clancy, a spokesperson for the Irish Cancer Society, said it was disappointing to hear the system had “gone off the rails”.”
It is essential that they get access to care, and that they are given the information they need to make the right decisions.”