Friday 22 March 2019

'We've taken one step forward, two steps back' in treating cancer patients within set timelines

Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society. Photo: Andres Poveda
Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society. Photo: Andres Poveda
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Cancer patients are not getting diagnosed and treated as early as they should, the Oireachtas Health Committee will be told today.

Irish Cancer Society chief executive Averil Power will warn that recommended timelines for patients are not being met and inadequate resources are being directed towards the National Cancer Strategy to deliver care for growing numbers of people with the disease.

Ms Power will highlight how 95pc of women with breast cancer symptoms should be seen in two weeks, but this is happening for only 75pc.

"Nine in 10 patients with certain cancers were to have surgery within timelines set out in the strategy. Only seven out of 10 did.

"Nine out of 10 patients starting radiotherapy treatment were meant to do so within 15 working days of being ready to treat. Just over eight in 10 did."

She warns: "Publication of the strategy was a step forward. Underfunding and under-performance are two steps back."

All patients deserve a standard of care promised in the 2017 strategy but unless action is taken now "this will not happen. Instead, with more cancer patients and insufficient resources, standards will slip".

The failure to provide enough resources to deliver services will be described as "truly shocking".

The organisation is calling for more investment in cancer research.

Irish Independent

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