Press Release

Statement by the Department of Health & Children welcoming publication of the EUROCARE-4 Studies Reports

Responding to the publication today (Tuesday, 21st August) of the Eurocare-4 Studies Reports, the Department of Health & Children welcomed the publication of the Reports. This form of collaboration, involving over 80 cancer registries across 23 countries, enables us to monitor our progress by reference to our European counterparts.

The Government has made decisions in the last year to move cancer care up to a new level to achieve better outcomes for people in every region of the country. Ireland is making progress in Ireland on cancer control. Ongoing reports from our National Cancer Registry show that survival for most cancers continues to improve in Ireland. However in addition to improving survival, the Government has committed itself to improving survival relative to our European counterparts. The Cancer Control Strategy which was published last year provides the means of achieving this.

Government policy and Cancer Control Strategy

The Government is committed to making the full range of cancer control services available and accessible to cancer patients throughout Ireland. This will encompass prevention, early detection, and rapid access to quality services. This is the key objective of the Government’s National Strategy for Cancer Control.

The Government is committed to investing significantly in the implementation of the new Strategy. The Minister has made available an additional €20.5m this year for cancer control (screening, acute services and research). This is an increase of 74% on the comparable 2006 investment and includes €3.5m to support the initial implementation of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme.

The Programme will manage, organise and deliver cancer control on a whole population basis. It will have a strong emphasis on prevention and early detection, integrated across primary, hospital, supportive and palliative care. The Service Plan of the HSE for this year sets out the detailed deliverables of the Programme. This includes the establishment of the leadership team to implement the Programme, including the Director of the Programme and key medical leaders at network level. Clinical leaders in oncology will be appointed to lead the delivery of quality multi-disciplinary care. The HSE and the Department of Health and Children are also working on the means to implement the National Plan for Radiation Oncology.

Investment since 1997

Since the implementation of the first National Cancer Strategy in 1997, approximately €1 billion has been invested in cancer services nationally. The Government has invested substantially in all regions to improve cancer survival. Over 100 additional Consultants have been appointed in key areas of cancer care such as Medical Oncology, Radiology, Palliative Care, Histopathology, and Haematology. An additional 343 clinical nurse specialists were also appointed in the cancer services area. Nearly 94,000 patients (in-patient and day) were discharged from hospital following a diagnosis of cancer in 2005, an increase of nearly 70% over 1997. Just under 58,000 people were treated as day cases in 2005, an increase of 130% over 1997.

Cancer Screening

Earlier this year, the Minister set up a National Cancer Screening Service Board. This amalgamates BreastCheck and the Irish Cervical Screening Programme (ICSP). BreastCheck will be rolled out nationally this year and the ICSP will be rolled out in January 2008. The total allocation to the new Service is €33m; this is a 71% increase on the 2006 allocation to the Programmes. The Service will also advise on the implementation of a national colorectal screening programme.