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Cancer surgery centralisation plan nearing finalisation

The plan for the centralisation of cancer surgery will be completed by the end of March, according to the national cancer strategy implementation report.

The report, which was recently published by the Department of Health, states that a plan setting out the designated cancer centres where surgery will be carried out for various tumour types will be finalised in the first quarter of 2019.


The Medical Independent recently revealed that the Department was considering the second draft of the National Cancer Control Programme’s (NCCP) plan to centralise cancer surgery. The NCCP submitted the first draft to the Department in 2017 but was asked to make a number of amendments.


The implementation report also states that the job description for the role of National Clinical Lead in Geriatric Oncology in the NCCP has been finalised and will be advertised in the first quarter of 2019.


“In tandem with this, NCCP has recently approved a geriatric ANP [advanced nurse practitioner] post for Waterford to support the specialised geriatric oncology service provided there,” according to the report.


The cancer strategy stated that links between cancer services and geriatric services will be strengthened, facilitated by the appointment of a national lead in the area.


The strategy also sought to develop stronger links with primary care services and cancer centres.
“The NCCP now has GP support (two days per week) to focus on pre- and post-treatment supports. A cost comparison study on the community oncology nursing programme has commenced in Community Healthcare Organisation 2,” according to the implementation report.
“The potential of primary care centres to provide supportive care for cancer patients will be explored.”


The National Clinical Lead for Cancer Nursing is also expected to be appointed by the end of first quarter of this year.
The report further states that model patient treatment summary and care plans have been developed for patients with colorectal cancer. Potential demonstration sites to pilot these plans in the second quarter of this year have been identified.


According to the national cancer strategy, all hospitals will offer patients a patient treatment summary and care plan as part of their support. These plans will allow patients to store information about their cancer, their cancer treatment and their follow-up care.


The Irish Cancer Society stated that implementation of the strategy has fallen behind in a number of areas.
Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society, Ms Averil Power, said: “Unfortunately for patients, many are not getting diagnosed within the timelines set out in the strategy. This can cause significant additional stress and worry for patients, often with acute symptoms, at a vulnerable time. We need continued investment in diagnostics, so that patients with worrying symptoms can be seen as quickly as possible.”

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