Developments in Cancer Services

Nearly every household in Ireland has been touched by cancer in some way, whether that is through our own health, or that of a relative, neighbor or friend. In 2013, cancer caused about one-third of all deaths in Ireland. It is important that we take a national, strategic approach to cancer control. The first cancer strategy, Cancer Services in Ireland: A National Strategy was published in 1996. That strategy brought coherence to the development of cancer services and involved the appointment of a broad range of cancer specialists. A 15% reduction in premature (under 65 years) cancer mortality was achieved by 2003.

The second Strategy, with a population health approach, followed in 2006 – A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland. This strategy focused on population needs, reform and reorganization of the way cancer services were delivered with a particular focus on centralization of confirmatory diagnosis, treatment planning and surgery. Clear, evidence-based policy direction, strong leadership, the establishment of the National Cancer Control Program (NCCP) and strong working relationships all contributed to the progress made under this strategy. The main areas of achievement include the designation of cancer centers, equal access to high quality treatment, multidisciplinary management of cancer patients, the development of rapid access clinics, developments across cancer screening, radiation oncology and medical oncology, as well as reduced smoking levels.

Following the publication of that Strategy, the NCCP was established as an executive arm of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2007. The objective of the NCCP was to establish a comprehensive system of cancer control, primarily covering prevention, early detection, treatment and follow-up. The NCCP also set standards and guidance for the delivery of cancer care and ensured the monitoring and oversight of cancer services. It provided leadership for a change program to ensure that cancer services were organized and delivered in an effective manner, based on clinical criteria and international evidence.

The NCCP’s 2015 Report on the Implementation of ‘A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland 2006’ provides a comprehensive report on the work of the NCCP to that point. This report was a key source in informing members of the Evaluation Group on the organization of cancer services in Ireland prior to the evaluation process.

Development of this Strategy

In April 2015, the Minister for Health established a Steering Group under the chairmanship of Professor M. John Kennedy to provide guidance and advice to the Department in the development of a new cancer strategy. The establishment of the Steering Group was supported by the publication of the report of the Evaluation Group on A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland (2006). That report was commissioned by the Department and conducted during 2014 in preparation for the development of a new strategy.

Also in April 2015, a Cancer Patient Forum 3 was established to represent the views of patients and patient groups, and to provide them with a meaningful role in the development of the Strategy. Members of the Forum represented patients or organizations with experience of many cancer types and from various parts of the country. The Forum was represented on the Steering Group to more readily facilitate a patient input and to ensure that all members of the Forum were always fully informed on issues relating to the development of the Strategy.

The Department of Health conducted a public consultation in June and July 2015 to obtain the views of the public and of organizations on current cancer services and priorities for the future.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment