Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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292. To ask the Minister for Health the governance the National Cancer Control Programme has in place to ensure regional and geographical equity of access to services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30856/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Successive National Cancer Strategies have embraced the concept of cancer control that emerged internationally and that included recommendations in relation to the organisation, governance, quality assurance and accreditation across the continuum of cancer care. The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) formulates and implements a whole of population, integrated and cohesive approach to cancer.

In line with the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, the NCCP has the broad objective of having models of care in place that ensure that patients receive the required care, in a timely fashion, from an expert clinical team in the optimal location. The concept of a continuum of care underpins the approach to patient services, from prevention, early diagnosis and evidence-based, high quality patient-centred treatment, to appropriate follow-up and support

The model of care for cancer treatment incorporates 8 designated cancer centres, each serving a defined population and geographic area. The eight designated cancer centres are:

- St. Vincent’s University Hospital

- St. James’s Hospital

- Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

- Beaumont Hospital

- Cork University Hospital

- University Hospital Limerick

- University Hospital Waterford

- University Hospital Galway (with a satellite Symptomatic Breast Disease Clinic in Letterkenny University Hospital)

Symptomatic Breast Disease Clinics and Rapid Access Clinics for lung and prostate cancer operate in each of the designated cancer centres. Personnel in these clinics work to ensure that patients with suspected cancer are seen quickly and that key performance indicators (KPIs) are in place to monitor performance.Performance is reviewed by the NCCP on a monthly basis.

The centralisation of all surgical oncology into the 8 designated cancer centres is an objective of the National Cancer Strategy. This is based on clear international evidence that patients who are operated on by surgeons who carry out higher volumes of surgery in specialist centres, that themselves have high volumes, achieve better outcomes. At present, approximately 83% of primary cancer surgery is undertaken in designated cancer centres. Plans are in place, and work is being undertaken, to achieve full centralisation of all cancer surgery in the designated centres during the period of the Strategy to the benefit of patients nationwide.

Radiation Oncology is provided in 5 public hospital in Dublin, Cork and Galway. Such services are also made available to public patients through private facilities in Waterford and Limerick. Furthermore, through a cross-border Service Level Agreement, patients from the North West can access these services at the North West Cancer Centre, Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Derry.

Medical Oncology is provided in 26 Hospitals across the country. This enables patients to receive their chemotherapy as close to home as possible.

Across all services, the NCCP issue guidelines for patient care (worked up in consultation with clinicians on the ground) and follow up through monitoring to ensure that standards are properly and uniformly maintained. Support is provided as needed, and any issues arising are followed up in a speedy way.

The NCCP has contributed greatly to the development of cancer services throughout Ireland, to the continuing improvements in outcomes for patients and to the greatly improved quality of life of many following their cancer treatment.

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