Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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208. To ask the Minister for Health the level of cancer care being provided under current restrictions; and when normal cancer care services will resume. [23461/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The National Action Plan on Covid-19 identified the continued provision of cancer care as a priority. Cancer services continue to operate in line with guidance issued by the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

The NCCP is continuing to closely monitor trends in numbers coming forward to diagnostic services, and the level of attendances for appointments for treatment. The total number of patients seen across all Rapid Access Clinics (RACs) in 2020 (44,233) amounted to 88% of the 2019 figure (50,249). GP e-referrals to RACs for weeks 2-17 (up to 25th April) this year stand at 153% of the activity in the corresponding weeks in 2020, and 126% for the corresponding weeks in 2019.

Medical and radiation and oncology services are continuing, utilising the safeguards of social distancing and infection prevention & control measures built up in the past year. The number of patients receiving chemotherapy up to end-2020 was at approximately 88% of 2019 activity, while radiation oncology was operating at >90% of 2019 activity.

An important message to everyone now is that, if you have any concerns about cancer please go to your GP, who will arrange appropriate follow-up care. Our cancer diagnostic and treatment services are open, and our healthcare staff will provide any necessary care.

Funding of €12m has been allocated this year for the restoration of cancer services to 95% of 2019 (pre-Covid) levels. This funding will support hospitals in addressing backlogs, extending clinic times, providing additional clinics, increasing diagnostic capacity and providing locum/temporary support. It will also support virtual clinics and more accurate triage, and facilitate infrastructure and minor equipment purchases to increase capacity across Rapid Access Clinics and surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology services.

In addition, as part of Budget 2021, an extra €20m has been allocated for the continued implementation of the National Cancer Strategy this year. This funding will facilitate developments across prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient supports.


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