Delays and disruptions to cancer treatments must be urgently addressed – The Rural Independents

Speaking from his Tipperary constituency today (Tuesday 11th January), the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated:

“The data tells us that less cancers are being diagnosed during the pandemic. We know that early diagnosis is crucial to survival outcomes. Hence, this is a system-wide failure occurring as services were already stretched prior to the pandemic, but now our cancer services are at breaking point.”

“Research by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) shows that as many as 1 in 8 cancers that were predicted to be diagnosed in 2020 were not. Meanwhile, data from the HSE illustrates that waiting times for treatments and referrals have increased significantly during the past two years, with the government either unwilling or incapable of addressing this issue.”

“The seriousness of this is highlighted in one recent peer reviewed study, which finds that a four-week delay in cancer treatment increases the risk of patient death by about 10 per cent.”

“Like many of the challenges facing our health and social care services, delays in cancer treatments are connected to years of inadequate investment, insufficient resources, subpar senior management accountability and staff shortages.”

“The double whammy of insufficient resources and pressures on healthcare workers means that many clinicians are forced to make ‘clinical judgements,’ to determine whether treatments are provided or delayed. In such situations, it is always the patient who suffers.”

“Patients and their families are understandably terrified of having their treatments delayed and are, therefore, upset about the effects on their mental and physical health.” 

“Cancer doesn’t stop being a life-changing and life-threatening disease in the middle of a global health pandemic, even though the government appears to believe it does.”

“Increasingly, every effort must be made to ensure cancer surgeries are prioritised during this difficult time.”

“We are hearing from people with cancer who feel forgotten. People facing cancer and their caregivers need assurances that their care will be prioritised and that there is a plan in place, to expedite all cancer services and care forthwith.”

“We need an urgent plan from the Health Minister and the government to tackle this emergency situation. We are calling on the government to implement measures to clear waiting lists and to dramatically reduce both diagnosis wait times and the time window from diagnosis to treatment.”

“This is an emergency, and we need the government to act now. It is no longer tenable to bury heads in the sand on this critical issue, as the Health Minister is currently abandoning his duty of care to all cancer patients,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.