Chambers responds to cancer clinicians’ alarm with a clarion call for equity and excellence in care

Sen Lisa Chambers

Sen Lisa Chambers

Fianna Fáil and European Election candidate in the Midlands Northwest constituency, Senator Lisa Chambers has issued a resounding call to action in response to an open letter from Ireland’s leading cancer clinicians to Taoiseach Simon Harris, warning of the critical state of cancer care in the country.

The clinicians’ letter paints a concerning picture of the healthcare system, with understaffing and lack of funding leading to delayed surgeries and potentially stagnating or worsening cancer survival rates.

Senator Chambers, speaking with Prof. Michael Kerin, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Cancer programme for the west and northwest, discussed the implications of the letter and the vital need for improvements at University Hospital Galway (UHG ).

With UHG in the process of seeking accreditation by the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI ), the Senator underscores the importance of the peer review visit set for May, which is a step towards achieving the high standards required by the OECI. Beaumont and Trinity St James’ Hospitals are already accredited to this organisation.

“The west of Ireland cannot remain in the shadows of healthcare disparity. It is unacceptable that survival rates in our region lag behind, and the plea from our nation’s cancer clinicians only emphasises the urgency of enhancing our cancer care infrastructure,” Chambers stated.

Senator Chambers, alongside other colleagues working with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Finance Michael McGrath, ensured the inclusion of the new Regional Cancer Centre for the west in the National Development Plan. This initiative is accompanied by a robust implementation program aimed at addressing regional imbalances and improving health outcomes.

“Another ongoing challenge in University Hospital Galway at present, is the fact that cancer care has to compete with emergency medicine. So it is crucial that the Regional Cancer Centre is delivered for the region, to ensure faster access to care and treatment, better working conditions for staff and overall, better outcomes for patients.

“It’s high time for dedicated, ring-fenced funding to not only support but elevate the National Cancer Control Programme,” Chambers insisted. “Our goal is to ensure that the new Regional Cancer Centre provides swift access to care, fostering an environment for medical professionals to deliver their best, and for patients to receive the treatment they deserve,” she said.

Moreover, Senator Chambers is adamant that Ireland must actively participate in EU-wide strategies for cancer treatment, citing the potential for research and innovation projects to improve outcomes across the European Union.

“This is a pivotal moment for our healthcare system. The clinicians’ letter is not just a warning but a call to steadfast action. We need to secure access to cutting-edge medicine, and ensure that our cancer centres, especially those in the west, are adequately staffed to face this challenge head-on,” Sen Chambers concluded.


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