Health minister Stephen Donnelly said that he is hoping to secure an increase in funding for cancer surgery in the upcoming Budget.
Giving the opening address at a virtual surgical conference on Saturday, Mr Donnelly said he expected the Irish health service to see an increase in the number of patients presenting with cancer in the coming months.
“We recognise that the numbers coming forward for cancer surgery in the coming period and into next year is likely to continue to increase,” he told medics at NUI Galway’s Sir Peter Freyer Symposium.
“With that in mind, I’ll be hoping to secure further funding for cancer surgery in the Budget process this year, which will apply from January of next year.”
The Budget will be announced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in the coming weeks.
In his opening, pre-recorded remarks, Mr Donnelly said that Ireland had entered a new stage of the pandemic.
“There is reason to be hopeful now more and more of our population have completed the vaccination programme,” he said.
Mr Donnelly said the Government was focusing on “addressing the impact of Covid-19 on our health service, including cancer services”.
He said that he was working to implement the National Cancer Strategy, with a focus on improving prevention and early diagnosis.
Under the 2021 CLÁR programme, funding will support organisations that provide free transport for cancer patients so that they can attend medical appointments.#OurRuralFuture pic.twitter.com/hqoiivDdVS— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) September 2, 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic saw a significant disruption to healthcare in Ireland.
Health officials have consistently warned of the additional stress and strain that treating Covid-19 patients places on Ireland’s health service.
As of 8am on Friday, there were 353 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 55 in intensive care.
Mr Donnelly said that 205 healthcare staff are being recruited across Irish cancer services this year.
Paying tribute to the efforts of healthcare workers during the pandemic, Mr Donnelly said: “With increased levels of funding and recruitment, it’s hoped that we can continue to make improvements in prevention, in early detection and treatment.”
Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organisation’s Health Emergencies Programme, is set to address the conference later on Saturday.