June 7, 2023
Cancer strategy needs post-Covid reboot to catch up on missed care and targets – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the Minister for Health to reboot the national cancer strategy.

This comes following reports that as many as 1 in 12 expected cancers were not detected across 2020 and 2021.

The Waterford TD has said that cancer services were operating significantly below target, with only 75% of patients attending rapid access clinics within the recommended timeframe, and only 72% of patients commencing radiotherapy treatment within 15 days of being deemed ready for the treatment.

The target for both of these services is 95%.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The figures being reported, that as many as 1-in-12 expected cancers were not diagnosed in 2020 and 2021, are very alarming.

“This is a natural consequence of the reduction in services during Covid, but the Minister for Health needs to do more to ensure that missed cancers are being caught up on.

“Cancer services are not operating at the level we need them to be. This is down to resourcing and capacity, and this is clear from the HSE’s statistics.

“The cancer strategy needs a post-Covid reboot. A substantial plan needs to be put in improve access to screening, rapid access clinics, and radiotherapy.

“Recruiting staff is also presenting a major challenge to the health service. Services are under immense pressure, but we have heard from radiotherapists in particular that they feel unsupported.

“The pressure they are being put under, without enough staff, is driving burnout.

“The Irish Cancer Society and radiotherapists have been sounding the alarm that there is a looming crisis in the profession, with many considering leaving due to feeling unsupported at work.

“Capacity resourcing and workforce planning for cancer services need to be looked at seriously, as there is no plan in place from the Minister to address these issues.

“Last year, we proposed additional funding of €20 million to invest in the cancer strategy. We also proposed a comprehensive expansion in training places across health and social care professions to address the staffing shortfall in the health service.

“Health workers deserve better from Government, but the pressure won’t let up until the Government delivers on workforce planning.”

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