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Last year, the NCCP conducted a diagnostic exercise on RACs as a result of increasing pressures on the service.
“When we started, we realised there hasn’t been any significant investment recently in the staff in the rapid access clinics; so it may be over the next couple of years to make those clinics work better, we need to get the process right, get the staff numbers right and put in staff,” Dr Jerome Coffey told the Medical Independent (MI).
“It may be as simple as one additional nurse in a clinic and one additional data manager helping to get the performance up to target level.”
There are 24 RACs in the country — eight for prostate cancer; eight for lung cancer; and eight for breast cancer.
An improvement plan is now being rolled-out to boost services provided by the clinics.
In minutes of the NCCP Executive Committee meeting from March, seen by MI, reservations were expressed about the Programme’s role in the process.
“Currently, the NCCP does not have the manpower to take on new projects,” according the minutes.
Dr Coffey admitted the project is “huge,” but said the NCCP has received support from the quality improvement directorate of the HSE, which has hired Grant Thornton to support the initiative.
He added that a lot of the work in terms of the improvement plan is being done at hospital level.
“There are implementation teams in the hospital so it is not direct NCCP staff time,” according to Dr Coffey.
“So the point may be that we can’t do all the implementation in-house; it has to be at a hospital level.”