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Wage cut for cancer trials staff as activity slows

Staff at Cancer Trials Ireland have accepted a 20 per cent pay cut following a reduction in income at the charity due to the outbreak of Covid-19, it has emerged.

The salary cut was introduced in response to a decline in clinical trials activity, which has led to a fall-off in income, according to Prof Bryan Hennessy, Clinical Lead at Cancer Trials Ireland.

Around 50 staff at the organisation’s central office have been affected, including clinical research associates, quality experts, pharmacovigilance staff and data managers.

Cancer Trials Ireland is funded mainly by the Health Research Board, Irish Cancer Society and other international collaborative groups with whom it is working on trials.

“Because our trials activity has gone down, our incomes have gone down, so our staff had to have salary cuts,” said Prof Hennessy, explaining that the charity was paid directly for clinical trials activity.

“Enrolment to current trials has slowed down, in part because of resources going elsewhere, and in part because we just don’t know with some of these therapies what their implications are in terms of Covid risk and risk of severe infection.

“Investment in new trials and development of new trials has been significantly slowed as lots of pharmaceutical companies put a lot more effort and investment into generating anti-Covid type drugs.”

Trials activity, while still ongoing, has significantly reduced. Some cancer sites are unable to register new patients onto clinical trials due to restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic.

CEO Ms Eibhlín Mulroe said the charity is trying to adapt how it works in the current crisis.

“If you’re on a trial, you’re still going to be treated on a trial, so there should be no worries around that,” Ms Mulroe said.

“But if you’re a cancer patient and potentially looking at a trial, it might take a little longer to get on it. Having said that, there are still registrations happening for patients on trials.”

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