Former Wexford mayor and cancer victim says state should pay for MRI scanner

By DAVID TUCKER

Published 26/11/2016 | 00:00

Former Mayor of Wexford, Jim Allen.
Former Mayor of Wexford, Jim Allen.

a former mayor of Wexford, who is fighting cancer, says it is unacceptable that the people of the town are being asked to contribute to the cost of an MRI scanner that should be paid for out of national coffers.

'It makes me so mad that there is no MRI scanner in Wexford already,' the former Fine Gael councillor told this newspaper after reading reports about a major fund raiser for the much-needed scanner, with a €20,000 target set to kickstart the project.

'I've been fighting cancer for approximately 10 months now and have had two tumours removed, a kidney removed and a tumour in my throat, and have more treatment ahead of me,' said Mr Allen, who has arranged to meet Minister Simon Harris to air his grievances and to press him to act.

'With my condition I was put on an urgent priority list for an MRI scan, there was no higher priority, but I found there was a 12- to 14-week wait for an MRI scan in Waterford University Hospital and between six and eight weeks at the (private) Whitfield Hospital,' said Mr Allen.

He said he was advised to try private hospitals in Dublin and made an appointment at the Beacon 'which did an MRI three days later'.

'Trying to arrange it was an awful lot of fuss and bother which I could have done without, but I had the MRI and then saw my consultant,' he said.

'I talked to a good friend of mine who is in his late 60s and he's been waiting for an MRI for two years. He knows his condition is not going to kill him, but is it fair that he should wait so long for an MRI, or that I should have to travel to Dublin to get mind, considering my condition,' said Mr Allen.

'We're in a situation in which someone with cancer cannot get an MRI scan in Wexford and has to wait up to three months to get one in Waterford because it's so busy. We clearly need a scanner in Wexford, but why are we having to pay for it.

'The MRI scanners in Waterford are paid out of the public purse, so why are we so third world in Wexford that we have to pay for everything ourselves?'

Mr Allen said that cancer victims, including himself, found the journey to Waterford to see consultants and receive treatment following their scans onerous enough.

'If you go there, you will normally have to wait an hour to see a consultant and then it will take you two hours to get hime given the traffic. You may not be feeling your best and maybe you have had injections, so there is a clear need for a properly staffed scanner in Wexford, which will remove the need for people who are seriously ill to travel,' he said.

'So why aren't our politicians getting on to the Minister for Health telling him we need a scanner? Two years ago I wouldn't have appreciated the extent of the problem, but now I'm at the coalface it's very different.

'In my opinion people need to wake up to the fact that Wexford Hospital is not getting the investment it needs and deserves,' said Mr Allen, whose 17-year-old son is being treated for leukaemia that was diagnosed several years.

'To wait until 2018 for an MRI scanner is way too far away,' he said.

'We need someone like (John) Halligan fighting our cause, someone who will he heard and will make a lot of noise until they are.

'The government needs to pay up.'

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