Conference on cancer told reform of services planned

 

A NATIONAL plan to radically reform the provision of cancer services is currently in draft form, the Minister for Health, Mr Noonan, said last night.

The Minister's comment came as the President, Mrs Robinson, opened a conference at UCD on cancer attended by 500 surgeons and other health experts from 30 countries.

Late last year Mr Noonan promised to publish a national cancer strategy and the Irish Cancer Society expressed some surprise that the document is still not public.

The strategy will propose the establishment of "supra" regional oncology or cancer treatment centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway according to the Irish Medical Times, which said in its latest edition that the plan is to go before the Cabinet this month.

However, in a statement yesterday the Minister said his proposals will be submitted to Cabinet "in due course. It is my intention to publish the strategy as soon as possible. Until that stage it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further on the matter." Mr Noonan said "a draft of the strategy has now been completed together with other documents relating to cancer services."

An Irish Cancer Society spokeswoman said that cancer treatment services already exist in Dublin, Cork band Galway so what was planned could be an expansion of those existing services, but the society would have to see the actual document before commenting.

Ireland has a higher cancer mortality rate than the EU average and the strategy aims to reduced the death rate from the disease 15 per cent in the under 65 age group, the Irish Medical Times' says. The reforms also reportedly include a national cervical screening programme.