Seanad debates

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

5:00 pm

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Minister, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway West, Fianna Fail)

Tá mé anseo ar son an Aire Sláinte agus Leanaí, an Teachta Mary Harney, agus táim ag tabhairt an fhreagra ar a son. Glacaim an deis seo le leagan amach a dhéanamh ar an struchtúr agus an athstruchtúr atá á dhéanamh maidir le seirbhísi ailse go ginearálta, agus go speisialta mar bhaineann siad le Ospidéal Ginearálta Shligigh.

Titim i gcónaí ar son cearta tuaithe, ach i dtaobh ailse, níl aithne agam ar dhuine ar bith nach dtiocfadh ag taisteal dá gceapfaidís go mbeadh toradh níos fearr as. Caithfimid bheith fírinneach faoi sin. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil daoine a rachfadh go Meiriceá dá gceapfaidís go raibh seans toradh níos fearr a fháil. Caithfimid glacadh le comhairle na saineolaithe gur fearr lárionaid mhóra i gcás dul faoi scian agus ailse a aithint.

As the House is aware, Professor Tom Keane has been appointed to lead and manage the establishment of the HSE national cancer control programme. Professor Keane has ambitious plans and has already made significant progress in implementation of the programme. The key objective of the national cancer control programme is to ensure equity of access to services and equality of outcome irrespective of geography. This will involve significant re-alignment of cancer services to move from the present fragmented system of care to one which is consistent with international best practice in cancer control. The decisions of the HSE on four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The HSE plans to have completed 50% of the transition of services to the cancer centres by the end of 2008 and 80% to 90% by the end of 2009.

The HSE has designated University College Hospital Galway and Limerick Regional Hospital as the two cancer centres in the managed cancer control network for the HSE western region, which includes Sligo. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate. Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed bymultidisciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, much of the treatment, other than surgery, can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Sligo. In this context, chemotherapy and support services will continue to be delivered locally. Sligo General Hospital has a dedicated in-patient oncology unit, comprising 15 beds, and a dedicated day services unit, comprising eight beds. Cancer day care units will continue to have an important role in delivering services to patients as close to home as possible.

The Department of Health and Children and the HSE have been working closely to expedite the delivery of the national plan for radiation oncology, which was approved by Government in July 2005. The plan consists of four large centres in Dublin — at St. James's and Beaumont hospitals — Cork and Galway and two integrated satellite centres at Limerick and Waterford regional hospitals. Patients from Sligo needing radiotherapy continue to be referred to the radiation oncology department at University College Hospital Galway for treatment.

The HSE has confirmed it will have in place radiation oncology capacity to meet the needs of the population by 2010. After 2010 the HSE will continue to increase capacity to ensure these needs continue to be met. The Minister for Health and Children is fully confident this will be achieved through a combination of direct Exchequer provision, PPP and, where appropriate, the use of the private sector.

The Government is committed to making the full range of cancer services available and accessible to cancer patients throughout Ireland in accordance with best international standards. The developments I outlined here will ensure a comprehensive service is available to all patients with cancer in the western region including in Sligo.

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