Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher says the Government cannot continue to delay on a new National Cancer Strategy.  The most recent strategy lapsed over 15 months ago and since then there has been very little movement from the Government on the priorities for a new one.

Senator Gallagher commented, “With more than 200 different types of cancer, the disease is one of the main causes of death in this country.  Every year more than 40,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed and the latest research indicates that by 2020 one in two people will develop cancer in their lifetime.  Previous cancer strategies have been extremely successful in developing and rolling out screening programmes and increasing survival rates but we need to continue to progress more initiatives to reduce cancer rates.

“Despite assurances in 2015 from then Health Minister Leo Varadkar that a new National Cancer Strategy would be developed, the Government has allowed this vitally important policy fall off the agenda.  There are tens of thousands of families across this country affected by cancer and every effort must be made to ensure we have the best research, screening, diagnosis and treatment plans available in our hospitals and communities.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to bring forward a new National Cancer Strategy.  We want to include cancer patients and their families on the review group so that they can outline their perspectives and experiences of the system.  We are well aware of the link between health inequalities and cancer and we want to ensure that this is reflected in the new national strategy.

“We want to see e-referrals extended to all cancers, alongside a GP education programme on the signs and symptoms of cancer.  Community health centres should undertake the burden of care, rather than acute hospitals, with GPs and practice nurses upskilled to allow them carry out more services.

“Minister Simon Harris cannot continue to put this essential strategy on the long finger.  I am calling on him to outline what progress has been made since the new strategy was announced, and when we can expect it to be implemented.  This programme cannot be delayed any longer”, concluded Senator Gallagher.