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IMO warns of ‘devastating’ impact of Covid-19 on waiting lists

IMO representatives have  warned of the “devastating impact” of the pandemic on cancer services for years to come.

Dr Clive Kilgallen, Chair of the IMO consultant committee, and Dr Denis McCauley, Chair of the GP committee, were speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee today.

Dr Kilgallen said that “in March and April 2020, during the first wave, rapid access clinics for breast and lung cancer saw referrals fall by a third  and referrals for prostate cancer fall by half. While referrals have recovered, they remain significantly below 2019 levels particularly for lung and prostate cancer.”

He added that  “many patients” also experienced delays in accessing services and that cancer screening programmes have also been affected.

Dr McCauley called for investment in a national public health messaging campaign to help patients identify the signs and symptoms of different cancers and encourage individuals to visit their GP at the first sign of symptoms.

He also called for the reinstatement of national cancer screening programmes and “urgent and rapid expansion of access to diagnostic infrastructure including radiography, endoscopy and laboratory services”.

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