Working Life: We are still affected by the cyberattack and will be for the rest of the summer

Seamus O’Reilly, consultant medical oncologist, Cork University Hospital
Working Life: We are still affected by the cyberattack and will be for the rest of the summer

Seamus O'Reilly, consultant medical oncologist,  Cork University Hospital.

6.30 am

I’ve an early start. Myself and our dog Vito breakfast together.

7am

Cycle to work with my wife Mary – exercise is important– it’s great to be able to integrate it into the day. The day ahead is a combination of patient care, research, teaching and charity work.

Work starts with answering emails and dealing with clinic administration.

8-9.30 am

Cancer care is about teamwork, and treatment planning for all newly diagnosed cancer cases occurs at our multidisciplinary meetings which last about an hour and a half.

Cancer diagnostics are the foundation of care and have been crippled by the cyberattack six weeks ago at a time when we were catching up with Covid-related backlogs. We are still affected by the cyberattack and will be for the rest of the summer. At today’s meeting, we are seeing more advanced cancer cases as patients are diagnosed later due to the pandemic.

10-11am

We have a Clinical Trial Unit meeting. Cancer survival has improved dramatically in the past two decades. Clinical trials such as those from the Breast International Group and Cancer Trials Ireland have played a significant part in this progress.

11-1pm 

Ward round. Most cancer treatment is outpatient based. The patients in hospital are dealing with complications of cancer or its treatment, and need multiple inputs into their care such as pain management specialists and social work. Orchestrating these components is a significant part of my work.

1-5 pm

Clinic.  This has been a difficult 18 months for patients. Covid-19 has simultaneously caused illness, isolation and uncertainty. We have seen a tripling of mental distress in the pandemic. The cyberattack has magnified this further as order wrestles with chaos. I feel that our patients and their families need enormous resilience to deal with these challenges.

5-7 pm

The office beckons. A talk due next week is finalised, meeting attendees are notified of COVAX (www.unicef.ie) which we have been promoting at all medical meetings since May in solidarity with our non-EU colleagues and their families, projects with trainees are reviewed and returned, and ARC House documentation is completed.  I am co-chairperson of Cork ARC Cancer Support House.

7.30pm

Home for dinner with Mary, and our children, Claire and Sean.

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