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More cancer diagnoses predicted as hospital services activity increases

Increased diagnosis and surgical treatment of cancers are predicted as hospital services increase activity following a reduction in Covid-19 cases, according to the HSE.

Extra staff will be required to support a return to prior chemotherapy service levels as a number of measures are introduced to limit the spread of the virus, the HSE has stated.

Physical distancing guidelines “may require reconfiguration of day wards, which may result in loss of capacity”, according to advice on the future delivery of chemotherapy services.

 “Service reconfiguration… will require additional staffing to support the return to previous service levels and to maintain those service levels in the future.

“As hospitals emerge from the initial phase of the Covid-19 situation, there will be unique challenges in returning to previous service levels while continuing to respond to the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The advice stated that “as certain deferred services resume, increased diagnosis of and surgical treatment of cancers is predicted”.

The information is included in a National Cancer Control Programme advice document for medical professionals on the management of patients undergoing systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) in the context of the pandemic. The document was last updated on 25 May.

Furthermore, “additional resources may also be required to scale-up services that have been deferred during the initial Covid response”.

The document advised that additional space and extended opening hours/days may be required.

“The next phase will see patients re-enter the hospital system who may have had delays/deferrals to their ongoing treatment. It is important to continue to communicate with these patients and to consider the individual risk-benefit ratio of SACT when making treatment decisions with patients.”

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