Simon Harris urged to place sarcoma specialist in major acute hospital

Pauline Kavanagh, mother of sarcoma sufferer, Louise, 17.

Cancer patients and their families have urged Health Minister Simon Harris to ensure a sarcoma specialist remains at a major acute hospital in Dublin while a recruitment process is ongoing.

Last week, sarcoma patients protested outside the gates of Leinster House in support of the continued employment of Alexia Bertuzzi at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin.

Yesterday, seven members of the Sarcoma Action Group met the minister for an hour to highlight their concerns and tell their stories.

Dr Bertuzzi’s contract expired last Thursday. More than 15,500 people have signed a petition asking that the high level of sarcoma care continues at St Vincent’s.

Sarcoma affects between 200 and 250 people in Ireland annually and, with 50 different types, is not easily diagnosed. The cancer is curable if caught early but patients need a plan drawn up by a specialist.

Pauline Kavanagh from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, whose daughter Louise,17, was diagnosed with sarcoma in her spine last September, said they were happy with the meeting.

“There will be a sarcoma oncologist taken on within a three-month timeframe and, Mr Harris said he would get back to us within 24 hours about the reinstatement of Dr Bertuzzi,” said Ms Kavanagh.

“We want Dr Bertuzzi’s contract extended until a permanent sarcoma specialist is appointed. It was a good meeting. The minister listened to everything we told him.”

Pamela Fowler from Arklow, Co Wicklow, said her son, Ryan, 16, went public about having sarcoma because he was doing so well under Dr Bertuzzi’s care.


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