Press Release

Minister Martin announces the development of a National Telesynergy Network for Radiation Oncology Services

Mr Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children to-day (4 June 2004) announced funding of up to €1m to develop a National Telesynergy® Network for Oncology Services. The Minister said “The aim of the network is to improve service delivery and efficiency, to reduce patient travel, and support earlier and better diagnosis. Telemedicine is a key enabling technology to improve the networking of radiation oncology centres with outreach hospitals thus supporting expert case review, multi-disciplinary meetings, education and research.”

Speaking at the opening of the Radiation Oncology Unit at Cork University Hospital the Minister stated “This initiative is a key component in the implementation of the Report on the Development of Radiation Oncology Services in Ireland. The Report identifies the development and funding of all aspects of information and communication technology as a critical and essential component of the proposed network of radiation oncology centres and the national service plan for radiation oncology.”

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Donal Hollywood, Chairman of the NROCG said “telesynergy® will enable the development of both national and international linkages between geographically separate hospitals and through this enhance all areas of oncology practice including professional training, clinical trial participation and translational research”.

This network is being jointly developed by the Department of Health and Children, the NROCG and HeBE under the auspices of the Ireland-Northern Ireland-NCI Cancer Consortium. The Minister said “This key project is available to our oncology services because of the commitment of the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Health in the United States. It strengthens the major all Ireland programme of work in oncology.”

Cork University Hospital has recently completed the commissioning of its new Radiation Oncology unit which consists of two new high energy linear accelerators, a dedicated CT Simulator and a fully integrated Brachytherapy Suite. This unit will treat patients from the Southern, South-Eastern and Mid-Western Health Board areas. The Minister has also approved the purchase of an additional two new linear accelerators for the unit with capital costs amounting to over €4 million.

Commenting on the new Radiation Oncology unit at Cork University Hospital, the Minister said “This unit is a significant addition to the services available for cancer patients in the region. It is an important step in the ongoing development of Cork University Hospital as a Supra-Regional Centre for the delivery of cancer care, with all three modalities of care – surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology now available on site.”