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Some cancer surgeries may require private provision

By Mindo - 02nd Nov 2020

A female surgeon is with her team of surgeons. The multi-ethnic group is preparing to perform an operation. The female doctor is sitting next to a patient who is lying on an operating table. The doctor is holding the patient's hand while providing comfort.

The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) has said surgery for oesophageal and lung cancer may have to be facilitated in private hospitals during the second surge of Covid-19 as a result of ICU requirements, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.

The issue was discussed during a meeting of the NCCP’s executive management team on 7 September, the minutes of which were seen
by MI through Freedom of Information legislation.

“The vast majority of surgery should continue in the cancer centres, with the possibility of oesophageal and lung being facilitated in private hospitals because of ICU requirement,” in the event of a second Covid-19 surge, according to the minutes.

Prof Arnold Hill, RCSI Chair of Surgery and National Surgical Oncology Advisor, was to prepare a memo for acute hospitals stating that surgery should remain in cancer centres during a second Covid-19 wave, apart from the outlined exceptions. When asked by MI about the current plan for cancer surgery during the pandemic, a NCCP spokesperson said: “The vast majority of cancer surgery should continue in the cancer centres. Any movement to the private sector will be made on infection control advice in light of Covid-19 numbers in any cancer centre ICU, consultant clinical assessment, triage and prioritisation of patients.”

The spokesperson said cancer surgery requirements are being addressed through the “winter/pandemic planning process”.

“The NCCP and the surgical oncology community at all times will follow Government advice, public health advice and infection control guidance,” said the spokesperson, when asked about the impact of level five restrictions on cancer surgery.

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