Written answers

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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1015. To ask the Minister for Health if essential lifesaving treatments will be resumed for persons with critical diagnoses, in particular cancer; if it will be ensured that persons with cancer are given the necessary treatments within a public or private hospital setting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18682/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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In line with the National Action Plan for Covid-19, delivery of essential urgent non-Covid care continued throughout the pandemic. Cancer care and urgent cancer diagnostics were identified in the Action Plan as a priority.

Symptomatic Breast Disease Clinics and Rapid Access Lung and Prostate Clinics continued, with urgent case prioritised in line with National Guidelines. Throughput in these diagnostic clinics was reduced due to the prioritisation of urgent patients, the need to introduce new infection prevention and control measures, and a reduced number of referrals to symptomatic clinics as less people presented to their GP with symptoms. These clinics are now returning towards normal levels of referrals, albeit with reduced capacity due to the need for physical distancing and other infection protection and control measures.

Urgent cancer treatment including surgical oncology, radiation oncology and medical oncology also continued following the consideration of the risk:benefit ratio of treatment of individual patients, the prioritisation of time-sensitive treatment and the review of the location of the delivery of these cancer services. Capacity for these services will be impacted by the need for physical distancing and other infection protection and control measures.

The HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) are assessing the capacity needs of cancer services in the coming period as part of the overall capacity plan being prepared by the HSE.

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