April 16, 2024
Taoiseach must act on cry for funding from leading cancer medics – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said that the government must immediately revise the health budget for 2024 to provide the funding needed to deliver the National Cancer Strategy.

Deputy Cullinane was reacting to the publication of an open letter signed by 20 leading oncology specialists which called on the Taoiseach to fully fund the National Cancer Strategy and warned of increasing waiting times for cancer tests.

He added that, over the past eight years as Ministers for Health, Simon Harris and Stephen Donnelly had presided over a scandal of expensive life-saving equipment lying idle due to staff shortages, cancer surgeries being cancelled because of hospital overcrowding and cancer services being consistently underfunded.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The Taoiseach must step up to the mark and properly fund the Cancer Strategy, which he launched seven years ago and which he has consistently failed to fully fund.

“Between them, Simon Harris and Stephen Donnelly have had eight years as Minister for Health during which time they have held cancer services back. The Strategy has only been properly funded in two of the last seven years.

“The HSE and National Cancer Control Programme sought for the strategy to be fully funded in 2024, but received no new funding to improve services, screening, treatment, and survival rates.

“It is wrong that leading consultants feel they need to go to the media to get what is best for their patients, yet we see it time and again. Ireland has the third highest mortality rate from cancer in western Europe, and cancer is the leading cause of death in this State.

“Harris and Donnelly have presided over a scandal of expensive life-saving equipment lying idle due to staff shortages, cancer surgeries being cancelled because of hospital overcrowding and cancer services being underfunded.

“Patients and families deserve so much better, and that is why Sinn Féin is this week bringing forward a motion to fix the government’s failure to deliver cancer services.

“We are calling on the government to end the recruitment embargo and implement a deliverable workforce plan for the health service.

“They must train more radiation therapists and hire the staff needed to utilise all radiotherapy equipment, fund the 1500 beds needed to deal with overcrowding and avoid hospital cancellations, and properly fund the cancer strategy on a multi-annual basis to drive improvements in cancer detection and survival rates.

“After 13 years of Varadkar, Harris and Donnelly as health Ministers we desperately need a change of direction. Our health services can be fixed, and Sinn Féin has a plan to deliver.

“It’s time for new ideas and new leadership in health. We need a general election and a change of government.”

Sinn Féin’s PMB can be read here.

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