Significant funding for cancer services acknowledges challenges faced by patients

Irish Cancer Society welcomes focus on National Cancer Strategy and restoring services in Budget 2021

The Irish Cancer Society has said thousands of cancer patients could benefit from faster access to tests and treatment, as well as better psychological and survivorship supports, as a result of the €32m package for cancer services. Budget 2021 has allocated €20 million to the National Cancer Strategy and an additional €12 million dedicated to dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on cancer services.

Reacting to the announcement, Director of Advocacy for the Society, Rachel Morrogh said: “We are pleased that through significant funding for cancer services, the Minister for Health has taken action to reduce the risk that cancer becomes the ‘forgotten C’. This funding must now be urgently directed to cutting waiting lists, developing critical new services and expanding the cancer workforce.

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Before the coronavirus crisis cancer services were struggling and were unable to meet patient demand, but the pandemic has made things much worse.

Director of Advocacy Rachel Morrogh
Rachel Morrogh Pre-Budget submission2

"The Irish Cancer Society has campaigned for significant funding to address the immediate issues facing cancer patients in the form of waiting lists and postponed tests and treatment, as well as on implementing the longer-term vision of the National Cancer Strategy. The funding announced today and the commitment to accelerate the implementation of the Cancer Strategy, is hopefully the start of the long-term investment and prioritisation of cancer services that have been strained to the point of breaking for so long.

Cancer patients continue to tell us that they are worried about getting timely access to tests and treatment and it is vital that this investment is used in ways that will directly benefit them. The Irish Cancer Society will monitor waiting lists to ensure this funding injection is having the intended results and that any barriers to people having the best chance of surviving and having a good quality of life after cancer are removed. The €12m provision must be made available immediately to clear backlogs and make sure cancer tests and treatment are quickly and safely available to patients.

Cancer patients face huge financial stresses as they go through treatment. In its Pre-Budget Submission the Irish Cancer Society appealed that Government enhance support for patients and families, through reduced statutory charges and wider access to medical cards, particularly those facing a terminal diagnosis. These Programme for Government commitments have not been progressed in Budget 2021 and the Irish Cancer Society will continue to advocate for meaningful change in the area of financial support for cancer patients.