Press Release

Varadkar announces Steering Group to develop National Cancer Strategy 2016-2025

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has set up a National Cancer Strategy Steering Group to advise the Department of Health on developing a new National Cancer Strategy for 2016-2025.

The Group is chaired by Professor John Kennedy, Consultant Medical Oncologist, St James’s Hospital and brings together a range of experts in cancer control. It will report later this year.

Minister Varadkar has also set up a Cancer Patient Forum to facilitate a patient input to the development of a National Cancer Strategy for 2016-2025. Members of the public and other organisations will also be able to have their say on the new Cancer Strategy.

Minister Varadkar said: “Following the last two cancer strategies, the majority of people now survive cancer and survival rates continue to improve. The objective of the third strategy should be to bring Ireland in to the top tier of countries when it comes to cancer care. The number of people surviving cancer is likely to increase significantly in the years to come. However, Ireland’s growing and ageing population also means that cancer incidence is expected to double between now and 2040. We are only now seeing the full benefits from setting up the Centres of Excellence and still face many challenges. I want to thank Prof Kennedy and the members for offering their expertise to the Group and helping us to steer a course in cancer treatment over the next nine years.”

Some of the issues which the new Strategy will address include:

  • minimising the rate of increase in cancer numbers through prevention measures, including initiatives promoted by Healthy Ireland aimed at keeping people healthier for longer;
  • ensuring that services for cancer treatment are on a par with the top international performers; and
  • improving the quality of life of people recovering from cancer.

The announcement of the Steering Group coincides with the publication of a peer review analysis of the previous strategy, ‘A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland’. The review was led by Professor Pádraig Warde of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto and is published today on the Department of Health’s website at

Minister Varadkar welcomed the outcome of the evaluation report which noted that impressive progress has been made in the provision of cancer services in Ireland in the period since 2006. It also pointed to areas that require increased focus. The Minister thanked Professors Pádraig Warde, Harry de Koning and Alison Richardson for their time and commitment in producing a report that will feed into the work of the new Steering Group.

The new Cancer Patient Forum has 16 members, most of whom have had direct experience of availing of cancer services. It has met twice already and has agreed on its nomination to sit as a member of the Steering Group. A strong patient input will greatly increase the likelihood of successful outcomes under the new Strategy.

Organisations and members of the public will be given an opportunity to input their views on a new National Cancer Strategy to the Steering Group through the Department of Health’s website in the coming weeks.

Note for Editors

The membership of the Cancer Strategy Steering Group and Cancer Patient Forum are outlined below.



Professor John Kennedy (Chair) Consultant Medical Oncologist, St. James’s Hospital
Dr Jerome Coffey Interim Director, National Cancer Control Programme
Dr Mary Hynes Deputy Director, National Cancer Control Programme
Dr Susan O’Reilly CEO, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group
Mr Michael Conroy Cancer, Blood & Organs Policy Unit, DOH
Dr Deirdre Mulholland Deputy Chief Medical Officer, DOH
Dr Anne-Marie Ryan Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, DOH
Mr Donal Buggy Head of Services, Irish Cancer Society
Ms Mairéad Mangan Cancer Patient Forum [1]
Professor John Hyland Vice-President, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Dr Liam Grogan Chair, Irish Society of Medical Oncologists
Dr Karen Ryan HSE Clinical Lead for Palliative Care
Professor Fergus O’Kelly President, Irish College of General Practitioners
Ms Pauline Kehoe President, Irish Association for Nurses in Oncology
Mr Tony Carlin Principal Medical Social Worker, St. Luke’s Hospital
Dr Marie Laffoy Assistant National Director, National Cancer Control Programme
Ms Majella Byrne HSE Health & Wellbeing Directorate
Dr Graham Love CEO, Health Research Board
Dr Harry Comber Interim Director, National Cancer Registry
Professor Joe O’Sullivan Clinical Director, Northern Ireland Cancer Centre
Ms Sharon Foley CEO, Irish Hospice Foundation
Ms Anne Jacob Clinical Lead Manager, Carers Association
Professor Owen Smith Consultant Paediatric Haematologist, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin

[1]  Ms Nicola Elmer has been nominated as an alternate.



Michael Conroy (Chair) Department of Health
Ms Nicola Elmer Irish Cancer Society
Ms Veronica O’Leary Purple House Cancer Support
Ms Heather Gately Cancer Care West
Ms Fiona McEntee Europa Donna Ireland
Ms Helen Forristal Marie Keating Foundation
Ms Mairéad Mangan ARC Cancer Support Centre (Dublin)
Ms Teresa O’Brien Screening participant
Ms Betty Holmes Donegal Action for Cancer Care
Ms Noelle Duddy Cooperating for Cancer Care North West
Mr William McDermott Men’s Cancer Alliance
Ms Evelyn Griffith CanTeen Ireland
Mr Patrick Flanagan Barretstown
Ms Brigid Doherty Patient Focus
Mr Frank Russell LARCC Cancer Support Centre
Ms Ellen Joyce Cork ARC Cancer Support House