September 4, 2020
Major Investment needed to protect cancer services – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson David Cullinane TD has said major investment in cancer services is needed to implement the National Cancer Strategy and to provide cancer screening and treatment in a Covid environment. 

Deputy Cullinane today published a comprehensive plan setting out the investment necessary to kickstart the National Cancer Strategy, to fund the National Cancer Control Programme and to provide additional funding to catchup on missed cancer diagnoses, treatment and screening services. 

Speaking today Deputy Cullinane said:

“In the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, there has been significant delays in cancer screening and diagnostic & treatment services. Before Covid, crucial targets in the National Cancer Strategy were missed relating to timely access to diagnostics, surgery, radiotherapy and screening. 

“Fewer than 100,000 people were screened in the first half of this year compared to 500,000 in all of 2019. The National Screening Service say that they are unable to screen people at the same numbers due infection control measures. Medical oncology services are operating at about 70% so there is an obvious need for an urgent plan. 

“Sinn Féin is setting out clear solutions. Our plan calls for a rapid review of all cancer services to establish need and to clear the Covid backlog. We need to reverse underinvestment in cancer care to help meet targets set under the National Cancer Strategy. 

“In our plan Sinn Féin is calling for:

  • Additional funding of €20m to meet the targets set out in the National Cancer Strategy and to diagnose and treat patients in a timely manner
  • An Additional €10m to catch up on missed cancer care and treatment and provide ongoing care in a Covid environment
  • Fund capacity protection measures with an additional €10m to restart all screening services and clear the Covid backlog

“This €40m package of measures is necessary if we are serious about diagnosing cancer patients in a timely manner, ensuring rapid treatment and rolling out screening services. Sinn Féin has worked with the Irish Cancer Society and supports their call for additional investment across all modalities of cancer care. 

“Next week I intend to meet with the Head of the National Screening Services and the Clinical Leads across the three screening programmes. I will work constructively with others to ensure our cancer services are adequately resourced, can meet the challenges Covid presents and treat patients in a timely manner.”

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