Press Release

Statement by Mary Harney, T.D. Minister for Health and Children on Cancer Service Developments and Appointment of Interim National Director for Cancer Control

The Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today (26th September, 2007) welcomed the appointment by the HSE of Prof. Tom Keane as Interim National Cancer Control Director and the designation by the HSE of eight centres for cancer surgery as a key step in implementing the Government’s Cancer Control Strategy.

The Minister said, “I am delighted that the HSE has made the appointment of Prof. Tom Keane as Interim National Cancer Control Director.

“We are very fortunate to have Prof. Keane join us in Ireland to help us deliver excellence in cancer services, as he has done in Canada. He’s a man with a tremendous track record, leadership and deep commitment to cancer services at both clinical and management levels.

“I’m very grateful that the British Columbia Cancer Agency has agreed to his secondment. It is a superb example of generosity and public sector co-operation to share best practices in cancer control.

“Prof. Keane will have my, and the Government’s, total support in his challenging role in Ireland. I intend to chair regular review meetings involving the HSE and Prof. Keane to monitor delivery of the cancer control programme. Progress will also be considered on an ongoing basis by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Health & Children.”

The Minister also welcomed the announcement today of the designation by the HSE of eight cancer centres and related matters.

“The implementation of the National Cancer Control Strategy is a major priority for me and for the Government. The overarching objective of the Strategy is to deliver high quality, fully integrated, multi-modality cancer care nationally. Cancer patients and their families deserve nothing less.

“The reorganisation of cancer services is at the heart of delivery of the Strategy.

“Today is a watershed in Ireland for cancer care. This is the moment when we make the practical decisions needed to breakthrough to higher standards and the best outcomes for patients throughout the country.

“The decision is not about hospitals. It is not about institutions or budgets. It is about the best patient care. All of us involved in health have an ethical obligation to make decisions in the best interests of patients, before local, institutional, political or professional interests.

“I believe this is the moment when we can, as a country, show that we are capable doing this, of re-organising cancer surgery according to what is in the best interests of patients.

I am very conscious that to achieve this, we need the support, leadership and advocacy of clinicians and all staff involved in cancer care. I ask all of them, no matter where they work, and at what level, to give their support and to engage in the practical changes that are needed to achieve the results we want for patients. This is about partnership in action for better cancer care.”