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New service for neuroendocrine tumours being considered

Despite the recent centralisation of services in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, for neuroendocrine tumours, some patients have to travel to Uppsala in Sweden or the UK for isotope therapy under the HSE’s Treatment Abroad Scheme.

At a meeting of the NCCP’s Executive Committee in January, consideration was given to the establishment of such a service in Ireland.

It was suggested that HIQA could carry out a health technology assessment (HTA) on the treatment and that the matter should be discussed during a meeting of the Ireland East Hospital Group.

However, speaking to the Medical Independent, National Director of the NCCP Dr Jerome Coffey said HIQA has not yet been asked about conducting a HTA, as the Programme is still considering the best way to proceed.

“The question is, is it appropriate that we do it here now, because the patient numbers may or may not be sufficient,” Dr Coffey said.

“We haven’t actually asked HIQA for advice on doing a formal HTA. But it is likely we will have discussions over the next number of months to see do we need to move it on now or are we happy to continue with the patients, and these aren’t massive numbers, going to centres they may have been attending over the last five or 10 years. I think if we were to undertake that sort of new service, we would obviously have to cost it, we would have to do all the design work. We would have to make sure we had a mentoring relationship with the Uppsala service or the UK so that they would continue to support the new service as it opens. And that is the sort of approach that we would be taking.”

Dr Coffey pointed out that most patients with neuroendocrine tumours do not require isotope therapy.

The new centralised service in St Vincent’s received European accreditation in the last number of months, which Dr Coffey hailed as a “big achievement”.

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