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Cancer support services require sustainable and additional funding – NCCP Director

By Paul Mulholland - 09th Jul 2023

cancer support services

There is a need for a nationally agreed approach to secure additional funding for cancer support services before the drafting of the next HSE service plan, according to the Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide made the recommendation to HSE Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) Dr Colm Henry in April. Prof Ó Laoide was responding to a request to outline the NCCP’s relationship with cancer
support services.

Dr Henry also requested information on how these organisations were supported through direct funding.

In March, the CCO had received a letter from Recovery Haven Kerry Cancer Support House in Tralee, which highlighted the service’s concerns about its sustainability in the absence of ongoing core funding from the HSE and NCCP.

Prof Ó Laoide’s response to Dr Henry, which was issued on 12 April, stated the NCCP did not have a dedicated funding stream to provide annual resources for cancer support centres nationally. He added that the NCCP provided some once-off funding.

However, he pointed out some centres had obtained sustained funding through HSE Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs).

“This is variable across the country and also dependant on the CHO level of overall funding and competing service demand,” according to Prof Ó Laoide.

Prof Ó Laoide added that the NCCP had engaged periodically with CHOs and other internal sectors of the HSE to ensure there was a focus on the needs of cancer support centres for sustainable funding models. However, there was no agreed funding stream, he outlined.

“In the absence of an agreed funding stream, NCCP will continue to support applications for funding through HSE Community Healthcare until such time as integrated funding models come available, within the limited NCCP once-off funding allowance.”

In addition, Prof Ó Laoide stated a sustainable funding model needed to be considered within the new regional health area (RHA) structure “with some endorsement from NCCP”.

“In the interim period, as the RHAs are realised, it is critical that there is a national agreed approach to secure additional funding for these services as part of the national service planning approach.”

The NCCP recommended that this should be agreed between the Programme, CCO, Department of Health, and CHOs, in advance of the HSE’s national service plan for 2024, he outlined.

For the past three years, the NCCP had operated a small once-off annual grant scheme. The Director wrote that it was hoped to continue this funding in 2023 and beyond.

“The level of funding available is small and would not in any way be sufficient to meet the demands/needs of the cancer support centres nationwide,” according to the letter.

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