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Action plan needed for recovery of cancer services – Irish Cancer Society

An action plan is needed for the restoration of cancer services in Ireland and to ensure all backlogs are dealt with quickly and safely, the Irish Cancer Society has said.

CEO of the Irish Cancer Society, Averil Power, said it is crucial that Covid-19 does not negatively impact cancer outcomes now and into the future.

In order to ensure this a number of key actions must be taken in the short, medium and long term to ensure that cancer detection and treatment are prioritised. The Society has outlined its key priorities for an Action Plan for Cancer Services to the Minister for Health. 

Ms Power said, “The health service must be restarted and reorganised as we move into the next phases of this pandemic, and as we do this it is absolutely vital that cancer services are prioritised.

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Unless normal patterns of cancer diagnosis and treatment return soon there is a serious risk that delayed diagnoses and treatment backlogs will lead to a second wave of Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland.

“We have outlined a number of key actions to the Minister for Health that we believe will help get cancer services back to full capacity, and able to safely deal with the backlog that has built up over the past number of months.

“This includes a roadmap to restarting screening, increasing capacity in diagnostics and the rescheduling of any non-urgent surgeries and treatments that were paused due to infection control measures.  

“All of the necessary resources must be made available to ensure that cancer services can operate at elevated levels in order to catch up. This elevated service level may need to be in place for at least a year and we need to see a commitment to funding and resourcing this.

“The safety of patients and staff must be paramount and central to decisions on how to restore services safely. 

“The restoration of cancer services must be done in a way that has clear targets and accountability.

“The recovery of cancer services must be tackled urgently to ensure that we do not see lives needlessly lost to cancer,” she added.

Irish Cancer Society Support Line

The Irish Cancer Society Support Line is open Monday-Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm on Freephone 1800 200 700 for anyone with a concern about cancer.