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Reduced cancer services due to Covid-19 pandemic 'unacceptable', says Irish Cancer Society

It was reported today that a Department of Health briefing warns of a major backlog in cancer treatments.

Image: Shutterstock/Hadrian

THE IRISH CANCER Society has warned that it would be “completely unacceptable” if reduced cancer services became the new normal in Ireland as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. 

The Irish Independent reported today that a Department of Health briefing details a major backlog for cancer treatments and reduced services. 

Concerns had already been raised at the start of the crisis about the impact Covid-19 restrictions have had on cancer screening services, with concerns about significant delays for patients. 

“It is clear that the double whammy of chronic underfunding and Covid restrictions could lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients,” said Rachel Morrogh, the Irish Cancer Society’s director of advocacy. 

“Anything less than the full resourcing and investment needed to avoid this situation is unacceptable. Cancer patients need to be diagnosed and treated at the earliest opportunity so they stand the best chance of survival and having a good quality of life,” she said. 

Morrogh urged the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to commit the necessary funding to cancer services. 

The Department of Health briefing to Donnelly also warns that waiting lists could rise by 130% – with a further €1 billion in funding needed to address the challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The warnings from Department of Health officials to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, echo calls made by the Irish Cancer Society over recent years that cancer services are extremely vulnerable and have been unable to meet demand for referrals, leading to long waiting lists well before Covid,” Morrogh said. 

“However, with significant and immediate investment in physical space and resourcing it may be possible to prevent this prediction from becoming a reality.”

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