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NCCP proposes hospitals ‘accommodate’ costs of new molecular tests

Healthcare professionals during a meeting at the hospital – High angle view

The emerging requirements for molecular testing will be beyond the budget of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) for the area, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.

As a result, it was proposed that hospitals take more responsibility for funding these tests. The issue was discussed during a meeting of the NCCP’s executive management team on 4 November 2019, the minutes of which were seen by MI.

The meeting heard that a survey on molecular diagnostics in cancer centres was in the validation process. “Hospitals are doing their own testing, but there is no clear pathway,” according to the minutes.

“Agreed that a standard has to be set for what is reasonable and consistent. Capacity will become an issue in the next five years and there is no budget or plan for developing infrastructure. Private providers will step in and provide the service at a cost and data ownership will also become
an issue. The focus needs to be on future planning, involving key stakeholders in the cancer centres.”

The NCCP directly funds a number of existing molecular tests. “The emerging test requirements will be beyond the budget of the NCCP,” the
meeting was told.

“It was proposed that, where possible within the NCCP budget, the NCCP would fund new testing for a finite period and then need to accommodate these costs in the service planning for subsequent years. Discussion will be needed with Acute Operations, Acute Strategy and HSE Finance.”

At its meeting on 13 January, it was stated that the NCCP had agreed to provide activity on molecular testing to HSE management to inform discussion on additional pressures in acute hospitals.

A HSE spokesperson told MI: “Work is ongoing in this area and an update will be provided to the NCCP executive once complete. Currently the NCCP fund new molecular testing requirements to support treatment decisions
for a finite period, where possible within the NCCP budget, and then hospitals need to accommodate these costs in the service planning for subsequent years.”

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