The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is currently engaging with “a spectrum of tumour groups” on plans for the further centralisation of cancer surgery in Ireland, this newspaper has been told.
In April 2020, the HSE informed the Medical Independent (MI) that centralisation plans for cancer surgery in Ireland had been significantly “disrupted” by the onset of the pandemic.
However, over two years later, a HSE spokesperson told MI that “work continues on the centralisation of cancer surgeries”.
“Although Covid-19 has impacted all modalities, NCCP is progressing centralisation in line with the aspirations of the National Cancer Strategy 2017–2026. NCCP is compiling and analysing data, engaging with clinical leads groups, and interacting with hospitals across a spectrum of tumour groups.”
The spokesperson said these tumour groups included “ur–ology, gynaecology, and skin, etc”.
“In addition, NCCP is taking into consideration the opportunities the new configuration of the regional health areas will present for both local and national services.”
In April 2020 MI reported that the onset of the pandemic had impacted the HSE’s cancer centralisation plans. At the time, the HSE spokesperson reported that the NCCP was at the “stage of convening national governance groups, linking with the Hospital Group management and clinical directors to develop implementation plans for each area”.
“Unfortunately, this work has been disrupted by the current Covid-19 crisis and its impact on all surgical activity across the health service.”
The HSE spokesperson told MI that the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 “acknowledged the key role that surgery plays in the management of solid tumours”.
“It emphasised the importance of completing the centralisation of cancer surgical services to ensure that optimal treatment is provided and that clinical outcomes continue to improve,” according to the spokesperson.