Underfunding of the national cancer strategy is “truly shocking” and will have a major impact on patients and their families, Averil Power of the Irish Cancer Society has told an Oireachtas committee.
Not only had resources not been given to the National Cancer Control Programme to deliver new initiatives promised in the strategy, but inadequate funding had also been provided to deliver existing services to a growing number of patients.
“This is truly shocking and will have a major impact on patients and their families,” Ms Power advised the health committee.
One of the six missed targets was to ensure patients were diagnosed earlier so that their chances of survival were increased.
“We recently heard from a woman whose GP had recommended she attend a breast clinic to investigate some worrying symptoms.
“He said her case was urgent and, as such, she should be seen within two weeks.
"Still waiting for an appointment, she rang our nurse line very upset."
“She was incredibly worried, anxious and distressed, thinking about possible cancer growing inside her while she waited to be seen.”
Meanwhile, One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer and they deserved the best treatment but unless action was taken now, this would not happen, said Ms Power.
Head of Cancer Trials Ireland, Prof. Bryan Hennessy said the number of patients being recruited on clinical trials was “going backwards”.
“Since 2014, we have dropped to 1.5% on therapeutic trials - we have gone backwards,” he told the committee.
Last year only 348 patients were newly recruited to trials, compared to 664 in 2014.