Taoiseach confirms delays across cancer care
“The comments by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Dáil today about Covid causing delayed cancer diagnoses, highlights the need for radical action to get people the cancer care they need” Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society has said.
“Every possible resource must be made available for our cancer services. Cancer cannot become the forgotten C during this pandemic. We are deeply concerned that the diagnosis and treatment of cancer are not at the levels they need to be, despite the very best efforts of every healthcare professional who is being asked to do more with less.”
The cases outlined in the Dáil today are as a result of:
· Reduced capacity across cancer services with a growing backlog of patients waiting for access, care and treatment;
· Long radiology waiting lists. Close to 185,000 people were waiting for a MR, ultrasound or CT scan at the end of 2019;
· Backlogs in symptomatic breast and prostate cancer services;
· Reduction in treatment capacity. In July, the briefing note for Minister Stephen Donnelly showed Medical Oncology was at about 70% of pre-Covid figures, radiation oncology at 80% and surgery in the region of 50%;
· Lengthening waitlist for colonoscopies due to a 42% reduction in activity due to COVID-19 restrictions, as outlined in the Winter Plan.
“A review of what additional capacity is needed to meet targets set out in the National Cancer Strategy is critical, given implementation of this vital 10-year plan was already well behind at the end of last year.
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin has today acknowledged the huge challenges facing anyone affected by cancer but this needs to be backed up by funding in next week’s Budget. The Irish Cancer Society is appealing for investment in long-term solutions and a commitment to sustainable funding in cancer services,” Ms. Morrogh concluded.