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Final decision on centralisation of head and neck cancer surgery sites awaited

The HSE is still in the process of discussing the centralisation of head and neck cancer surgery, the Medical Independent (MI) has been told.

A programme for the completion of the centralisation of surgery, in line with the National Cancer Strategy, was approved by the Minister for Health in July, with delivery due to take place over the next three years.

The National Cancer Control Programme’s (NCCP) plan to further the centralisation of surgery had been delayed due to the Department of Health requiring changes to the proposals.

Concern was raised in this newspaper earlier this year that the reconfiguration of the Hospital Groups could delay the designation of specialist centres for head and neck cancer.

A spokesperson for the HSE told MI that management is currently discussing this issue; however, they gave no date for when a decision could be expected.

“In relation to the surgical oncology centralisation of head and neck cancer, the centralisation of surgical oncology cancer services report is currently under discussion with the HSE executive management team,” the spokesperson told MI.

“Further updates will be provided when the outcome from this group is confirmed.”

Earlier this year, the HSE told MI that the NCCP was working in collaboration with the national clinical leads group, the HSE and the Department of Health with regard to the planned designated sites.

In April, Prof Michael Walsh, National Clinical Advisor for ENT to the National Clinical Programme in Surgery, told MI that plans to reconfigure the Hospital Groups could be delaying the designation of specialist centres for head and neck cancer surgery.

Prof Michael Walsh

Head and neck cancer requires designated centres to improve patient access and outcomes, stated the report Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery: A Model of Care for Ireland, which was published earlier this year.

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