Cancer centre to be developed in the west in next decade, report indicates

A new report makes a compelling argument for the development of a “comprehensive cancer centre” in the west.

Saolta University Health Care Group’s cancer centre report for 2013 indicates that such a facility would allow structured multidisciplinary team work, database integration, access to therapy, expansion of cancer research programmes and improved patient outcomes to be achieved.

“It will enhance the patient experience and facilitate same day access to diagnostics in the early phase and state-of-the art treatments later in the pathway of care,” according to the report. “The aim of our cancer strategy group is to develop a cancer centre over the next decade. This report highlights the need for such a centre and defines the roadmap.”

The report documents the annual cancer service workload from the Saolta University Health Care Group. While some cancer surgery and radiotherapy is provided via the cancer centre at Galway University Hospitals the study also outlines the regional cancer care provided from the multiple hospital sites.

The annual report reveals that there were more than 254,000 outpatient attendances at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin Park] last year, 37,804 of these were by newly diagnosed patients. These were seen in most specialties across the hospital and account for 15 per cent of activity in the GUH outpatient department.

The findings of the report included :-

· There were 8,068 inpatient episodes of care for cancer patients recorded at GUH

· There were 26,689 episodes of chemotherapy for cancer patients across the group

·  The National Brachytherapy Service was launched in January 2013 at GUH. Under Professor Frank Sullivan’s leadership, GUH has taken the lead in the roll-out and training of brachytherapy (a type of radiotherapy ) across the country.

·  The National Cancer Screening Service BowelScreen commenced on site in GUH and Sligo Regional Hospital (SRH ) thus completing the availability of the full suite of screening services (BreastCheck, CervicalCheck ) across the group.

·  Funding of €250,000 was awarded to the group from the Irish Cancer Society/National Cancer Control Programme toward equipment to support the colorectal screening/symptomatic services

·  There were 80 peer reviewed cancer research journal articles published in 2013

The report also illustrates the research resources and translational opportunities across multiple cancer sites. It highlights the “extraordinary productivity” of some young clinicians and scientists in creating the next generation of discovery and patient-centred therapeutic advances. The research activity is underpinned and supported by clinical care providers, national funding agencies and a network of well organised and dedicated voluntary cancer charities.

The document outlines that multidisciplinary care for cancer patients is now the norm and the extensive contribution made by individuals and disciplines, including radiology, pathology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgery, nursing and other healthcare professions to the functioning of multidisciplinary teams, cannot be underestimated.

“Capturing the complex and varied nature of cancer care in a backdrop of a major academic hospital and its affiliated regional institutions is a challenge. The development of a cancer information team at GUH is an important step forward in the development of cancer services across the region. The team draws information from several existing internal and national data sources. It is envisaged that the cancer information team will be expanded to include data staff from all of the group hospitals in 2014.”

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