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Cancer surgical centralisation delayed by Covid-19

Plans for the centralisation of surgical oncology had made progress before being “disrupted” by the Covid-19 crisis, this newspaper has been informed.

The HSE informed the Medical Independent (MI) that the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) had begun developing implementation plans for the centralisation of the services before the pandemic hit Ireland.

A spokesperson said all surgical activity had been impacted by the crisis. However, they added that these implementation plans were “critical” to the centralisation of surgical oncology and that progress in this area would take place in “due course”.

“The publication of the third National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 acknowledged the key role that surgery plays in the management of solid tumours,” the HSE spokesperson told MI last month.

“It emphasised the importance of completing the centralisation of cancer surgical services to ensure that optimal treatment is provided and that clinical outcomes continue to improve.

“The NCCP has been tasked by the Department of Health with drafting a surgical oncology centralisation plan. This report has been approved and endorsed by the Department of Health and HSE leadership.”

The NCCP had reached the point of discussion with the Hospital Groups and others on implementation before the pandemic halted progress.

“The NCCP was at the stage of convening national governance groups, linking with the Hospital Group management and clinical directors to develop implementation plans for each area,” said the HSE spokesperson. 

“Unfortunately, this work has been disrupted by the current Covid-19 crisis and its impact on all surgical activity across the health service. 

“It is critical that this report is discussed with the clinicians and the Hospital Group management teams and this will happen in due course.”

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