The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer care in Ireland will “take some time” to fully understand, a recent internal HSE meeting was told.
Director of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide spoke about cancer services at the June meeting of the HSE planning and performance committee.
Prof Ó Laoide advised committee members that overall, cancer services were “performing well”, particularly in the post-pandemic context, according to minutes of the meeting.
However, he noted that “it will take some time to fully understand the effect of lower levels of cancer diagnosis in 2020 and 2021 [during the pandemic] on the long-term levels of cancer incidence and prevalence and the stage of diagnosis at presentation”.
He also told the meeting that the burden of cancer was “growing”. Sustained investment in cancer control services was required to improve performance and address capacity deficits.
In relation to monthly performance data, the HSE committee noted the “significant work” of cancer services staff and discussed current “challenges” in service provision.
Prof Ó Laoide stated recruitment difficulties were a “major contributor” to these challenges.
The committee also noted the importance of data and information technology in enabling the planning and delivery of services.