Armagh I was informed by a member of staff that there were, at periods, no consultant cover in the Co Armagh hospital, meaning red flag breast cancer reviews, which should be carried out within two weeks, were taking much longer.
The two-week wait referral system allows a patient with symptoms that may indicate an underlying cancer to be seen as quickly as possible.
Armagh I contacted the Southern Trust to put these concerns to them.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “The Southern Trust currently has two permanent breast consultants in post.
“Due to unforeseen staffing issues, there was a short period during July and August 2023 when there was no Southern Trust consultant cover available.
“During this time, the team was supported by a Southern Trust Specialty Doctor with some consultant cover kindly provided by other Trusts, however, some services were reduced.
“Both consultants have now returned to work and an offer of a post has been made to an additional permanent consultant to join the team.
“As demand for health and social care services continues to grow beyond our capacity, regrettably, like many other specialties and like other Trusts, many people are waiting much longer than what we would want for assessment for suspected breast cancer.
“Staff are doing everything they can in very difficult circumstances. We continue to prioritise and treat patients by the urgency and severity of their condition and are working with colleagues regionally to improve access to all of our services.”