Thursday, 11 November 2021
Department of Health
354. To ask the Minister for Health his plans to ensure the availability of scalp-cooling services in the oncology ward of the Mater Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55272/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 353 and 354 together.
The HSE's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) advise that the provision of systemic anti-cancer therapies (SACT) for patients with cancer can include many other additional elements to support the patient in the management of adverse effects associated with their treatment. Scalp cooling is an example of one such supportive care measure.
There are 26 public hospitals providing SACT in Ireland. A patient’s consultant will consider each patient’s supportive care requirements, taking into account the individual patient, their treatment, and the evidence relating to the supportive care measure.
There is no clinical consensus on the use of scalp cooling as a supportive care measure for patients with cancer undergoing SACT. It is made available in some of these hospitals, based on suitability of the patient, local availability of equipment, service needs and capacity.
However, the availability of scalp cooling is currently curtailed on infection control advice, considering the public health measures in place in hospitals related to Covid-19. This is because scalp cooling is associated with additional time in the hospital environment, as well as social distancing and additional cleaning requirements.
The NCCP advises that discussions are on-going in relation to setting up a scalp cooling service in the Mater Hospital. However, any decision will have to take account of advice on public health and infection prevention and control measures in relation to Covid-19.