€180 million hole in national cancer funding

Cancer Coalition Demand More Money for Cancer in Budget 2025

Wednesday 19th June: Today, the Irish Cancer Society is launching its Budget 2025 Submission, urging Government to stop underfunding the National Cancer Strategy. This call for investment in the National Cancer Strategy is supported by the two main representative bodies for cancer doctors in Ireland, the Irish Society of Medical Oncologists (ISMO) and the Irish Society of Radiation Oncologists (ISRO).

According to the HSE, the National Cancer Control Programme’s annual budget for implementation of the National Cancer Strategy should have increased incrementally over the past 8 years to be €110m higher in 2024 than in 2016. The actual incremental increase has only been €65m. As a result, the cumulative loss of investment in cancer services from 2017 to 2024 is almost €180m. 

Due to this underfunding:

  • screening has not been expanded as planned; 
  • target waiting times for cancer are not being met; 
  • cancer surgeries are frequently delayed;
  • investment in infrastructure is lacking;
  • radiotherapy services are operating below capacity; 
  • clinical trials are falling far short of target; and 
  • access to new medicines is much slower in Ireland than in other European countries. 

CEO, Averil Power said, “One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. When we are, we deserve the best possible chance of surviving the disease. Sadly, due to underfunding of cancer services, people with cancer in Ireland are not being given that chance at present.

“In the latest year for which comparable data is available, Ireland’s cancer mortality rate was the third highest in Western Europe. Ireland is a leader in many areas. We should not be a laggard in cancer care. 

"Budget 2025 must prioritise the National Cancer Strategy, with ringfenced new recurrent development funding for the National Cancer Control Programme of at least €20 million. It should also include a commitment to multiannual funding for the Strategy going forward, to enable effective planning for improvements in the coming years.”

Representing the Cancer Coalition, Professor Michaela Higgins, President, Irish Society for Medical Oncology, said, “Medical oncologists across Ireland are witnessing the human cost of this chronic under-funding. Our healthcare staff make every effort to provide quality care to patients with cancer but are hampered by the lack of sufficient people, capacity and resources in the system. Unfortunately, we feel it is not possible to provide optimal care or patient outcomes in these conditions”

Professor John Kennedy, Chair of the National Cancer Strategy, said, “‘We are deeply concerned about the impact lack of investment in the National Cancer Strategy is having on people with cancer in Ireland. And we support the Irish Cancer Society’s call for Government to provide at least €20 million in new recurrent development funding in 2025, and each year thereafter.” 

The Irish Cancer Society is also urging the Government to address the cost of cancer for cancer patients in Budget 2025, which requires action from several government departments. Recommendations include: the abolition of hospital parking fees, an automatic entitlement to the medical card, enhanced access to the domiciliary care allowance, and a statutory ‘right to be forgotten’ for cancer survivors.