The Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) wrote to the HSE Chief Clinical Officer to request that a cancer clinical director be appointed to the senior management team in each of the six new health regions.
In an email to Dr Colm Henry on 11 October 2023, Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide referred to the recent circulation by the HSE CEO Mr Bernard Gloster of an organogram that outlined the relationship between the HSE centre and the health regions. The email was obtained by the Medical Independent through Freedom of Information law.
Prof Ó Laoide also referred to a meeting with the NCCP’s cancer clinical lead forum on 29 September that Dr Henry attended, which discussed the implementation of the regional structure in relation to the Programme.
Prof Ó Laoide said while the NCCP will continue to communicate with the HSE throughout the implementation process, he wished to provide “immediate feedback” from the cancer clinical leads to inform the planning process for the regions.
He stated that given the burden of cancer on the population, it was critical that cancer services had appropriate senior leadership at regional level. Prof Ó Laoide noted that one-in-two people in Ireland are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime.
“The NCCP would recommend that a cancer clinical director is appointed in each of the health regions and that this director would be a member of the senior management team of the region,” according to the correspondence.
The NCCP National Director noted that within the proposed new structures, services such as the National Ambulance Service have a direct link with the regions.
“We feel that equivalent direct linkages with the regions will be required for the NCCP to complete its mandate,” according to Prof Ó Laoide. “This should be explicitly called out in the structures.”
In another email to Dr Henry on 20 June, Prof Ó Laoide referred to a clinical engagement forum held in April, which also discussed the structural reform.
“What was clear from our consultant colleagues is that it is important for them the NCCP continues its national role, working closely with our national colleagues, the new health regions, and the Department of Health among others. The NCCP should continue to show strong leadership to and on behalf of the cancer community.”
The implementation plan for the health regions, published in July 2023, states while services will largely be planned and delivered at local level, certain specialist areas, such as cancer services, will continue to be organised nationally.
“The NCCP will partner with the health regions on the implementation of the national cancer strategies,” according to the document.
A response was awaited from the HSE at the time of going to press on the reporting relationships between the NCCP and the health regions.