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Patients in Northern Ireland could find themselves the victim of a delayed diagnosis as medical staff work to rule.
Hospital staff members belonging to the UNISION union have taken action in relation to pay and staffing.
More than 10.000 outpatient appointments and surgeries could be cancelled as a result.
There is some confusion over the provision of cancer services, with the Belfast Health Trust saying patients referred to cancer services on the suspicion of having the disease, may have their diagnosis delayed due to this action.
Martin Dillon confirmed that patients already receiving treatment will continue with their treatment through this action, and it Is patients that are undergoing investigations that will feel the effect of the delays this industrial action will cause.
However, UNISON are refuting this saying that all cancer services, including diagnostics, were exempt from the strike action at the request of health authorities.
UNISON’s regional secretary, Patricia McKeown, said “The trust did not indicate any intention to cancel cancer diagnostic treatment – if it had done so it would have been exempted.”
Meanwhile, patients are left without treatments or diagnoses.
Patients who face delays in their diagnosis tend to have the effect of their disease exacerbated, and potentially undergo treatment and suffer pain or discomfort they would not otherwise have had if the delay had not happened.
In the case of cancer patients, they may have to undergo more aggressive treatment, and can potentially mean that the disease reaches a point at which treatment is not viable, leading to a terminal diagnosis.
Victims of a delay in diagnosis may decide to seek compensation for both the physical effects and the mental distress that will have inevitably been caused. Blackwater Law would recommend chatting to a specialist medical negligence solicitor to discuss the details of your case and offer you support and advice on the next steps, if indeed that is a route you decide to take.