Varadkar appoints group to advise on new cancer strategy for next decade
A group to advise on the development of a new national cancer strategy will be announced by Health Minister Leo Varadkar today.
It will chaired by Professor John Kennedy, consultant medical oncologist in St James's Hospital in Dublin, and a forum will also be established to allow members of the public and cancer patients have an input.
The last strategy was published in 2006 and it led to the concentration of cancer services into eight hospitals to improve expertise in treating the disease and increase survival rates. The emergence of a number of cases of cancer misdiagnosis also hastened the re-organisation of services.
Mr Varadkar is to set up a new National Cancer Strategy Steering Group to advise his department on developing the next strategy, to run from 2016-2025. It will include a range of experts in cancer control and will report later this year.
Meanwhile, the July deadline for the introduction of free GP visits for all children under six remains unchanged, despite this week's court challenge, which threatens to delay the scheme.
A High Court challenge to the scheme brought by Dr Yvonne Williams, a Co Clare GP, will go ahead on Wednesday. Dr Williams wants the introduction of the new scheme postponed until her representative body, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), has an opportunity to negotiate the scheme on behalf of its members.
The HSE has set today as the closing date for GPs to sign up to a new contract agreeing to provide free visits to all children under six. If they don't, they risk losing existing medical card and GP visit contracts covering under sixes who attend their practices. But this is now unlikely to be acted on until the outcome of the court case.
Dr Williams said if these existing contracts are removed she will be put in an impossible position and risks having to close her practice. She is seeking injunctions, including one restraining the HSE from removing any patients under the age of six from her list until the proceedings are determined.