December 9, 2020
Cancer services struggling to meet demand – David Cullinane TD

David CullinaneSinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane has said that a worrying lack of consultants, equipment and data means that cancer services are struggling to meet demand.

Teachta Cullinane said: “There is a worrying lack of consultant specialists in various cancer services.

“Likewise, a lack of equipment and data is hurting the ability to deliver timely diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients. We do not have specific data on the cancer services workforce.

“There are hundreds of vacant consultant posts across the state – this includes oncology surgeons, pain treatment specialists, radiographers and more.

“All of this impacts on our ability to diagnose, see and treat cancer patients in a timely fashion. Around 100,000 people are waiting for a radiology appointment, for example.

“Cancer surgeries are down at least 15% due to Covid-19, as are screening services.

“This must be addressed by a radical catch-up programme, but this will require a major increase in capacity.

“The director of CervicalCheck has told us that missed screening will never be caught up on, and that the pandemic has caused a permanent delay to screening.

“There are also major issues around equipment – there is a lack of access to, and supply of, MRIs and other diagnostic tools, which will reduce our ability to deliver timely care regardless of staffing levels.

“In a recent survey by the Irish Thoracic Society, 83% of specialists identified that increased access to diagnostic procedures was needed to deliver better care.

“73% cited the need to increase the number of consultants, 65% said that increased access to clinic space, and 55% said they needed more support staff.

“These are major issues in access to care and it is replicated across the health service.

“The HSE and consultants cannot even agree on the number of vacant posts – in radiology, for example, the HSE says there are 27 vacant posts, but the IHCA says there are 60.

“We will never get timely access to treatment unless we get this right.”

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