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Full cancer data collection impacted by pandemic restrictions

The National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) is unable to undertake full cancer data collection due to Covid-19 restrictions, this newspaper has learned.


“In line with Government roadmap recommendations, all NCRI employees are working remotely from home. Full data collection is not currently achievable due to restrictions in place to ensure Covid-19
safety. This mainly relates to hard-copy data and some hospital system access,” a NCRI spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
“NCRI has access to a large volume of electronic data, which it is in a position to process and is securing further remote system access through the HSE.”


The NCRI is the publicly-appointed body to collect and classify information on all cancer cases in Ireland. In June 2019, this newspaper reported the Registry was seeking remote access to data from hospitals.


Concerns had been raised at NCRI board meetings about securing adequate accommodation for cancer data registrars (CDRs) at hospitals. In February, MI further reported that a Registry pilot to obtain remote access data from Cork University Hospital had been deemed a success, with the Registry hoping to extend this access across other hospitals.


The NCRI office in Cork has been closed since mid-March “and work is currently underway to develop our Covid response plan, which will incorporate our plans to return to the office”. The NCRI board has been able to meet remotely during the pandemic.


Meanwhile, the Registry recently recruited two new CDRs. “It was important to get these posts filled, as they are assigned to two of the larger hospitals in Dublin, St James’s Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital,” stated the NCRI’s spokesperson.


In terms of NCRI publications and research plans, the spokesperson said its publication schedule for 2020 had not been finalised before Covid-19 work-from-home arrangements began, as there were a number of contingencies relating to funding organisations and staff availability.


“No reports have been delayed specifically or solely as a result of Covid-19 arrangements, but a report on data completeness originally provisionally scheduled for Q2, 2020 has now been deferred to Q3 publication, reflecting a combination of other work priorities and working-from-home issues.”

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