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Underfunding cancer services in Budget would be at great cost to cancer patients

“Cancer services require €20 million in extra funding in Budget 2024 to secure better survival rates and quality of life for people with cancer”, Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power said today. She was responding to media reports that there may be no funding for new health initiatives in next week’s Budget.

“There is a real risk that cancer outcomes will go backwards if reduced spending, squeezed supply and increased demand on cancer services continues. The Irish Cancer Society is concerned that if cancer is not a priority for Government and that if the National Cancer Strategy does not receive the €20m in funding it needs, that the price paid by patients will be poorer outcomes and reduced services and support for them.

“The Irish Cancer Society would like some of the €20m funding to go towards the roll-out of a successful pilot we initiated called ‘chemo in the community’. We are also calling for investment in the Acute Oncology Nursing Service which allows cancer patients to avoid ED when it’s clinically appropriate. This would reduce distress for patients, decrease the risk of them picking up an infection and reduce the pressure on overstretched ED departments.

“Urgent action is also needed to address the impact of the cost of living crisis on cancer patients and their families. The financial impact of cancer is huge. The patient themselves is usually out of work for a period, while a family member may also have to take time off to care for them. At the same time, they are hit with a wide range of extra charges. In last year’s Budget the Government abolished inpatient charges following a public campaign by the Irish Cancer Society. This saving of up to €800 per year for cancer patients was very welcome. However, the cost of living crisis means that patients are increasingly struggling with other costs such as hospital parking fees.

“While some hospitals offer parking concessions for cancer patients, almost 2 in 5 public hospitals are hitting them with the full cost of parking. This can be up to €300 a month in some Dublin hospitals. We are doing everything we can to help and have grown our free hospital transport service by 30% this year. However, Government needs to step up and reduce hospital parking fees as promised in their Programme for Government.

“After three years of exceptional pressure on our cancer services, cancer patients, and the staff who care for them, are particularly vulnerable at this time. Cancer is not just a Department of Health, HSE or National Cancer Control Programme issue. The needs of cancer patients and their families deserve the attention of every member of Government and every elected representative”, Ms Power concluded.

Irish Cancer Society’s Full Budget Submission: 

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