Call for major investment in cancer services

ICS launches 2024 pre-Budget submission

Deborah Condon

June 6, 2023

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  • Significant additional investment in cancer services is needed to ensure that everybody impacted by the disease is offered timely tests and treatment, the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has said.

    As part of its 2024 Budget submission, Cancer Matters, the ICS is calling on the government to allocate €20 million in the National Cancer Strategy to support and develop cancer services.

    Other key asks in the submission include:

    -Abolishing the standard rate of 23% VAT on sun cream and sun protection factor (SPF) 30+ products in order to make these more affordable

    -Introducing a €500 tobacco retailer licensing fee

    -Abolishing car parking charges in all public hospitals for cancer patients

    -Reducing the Drugs Payment Scheme threshold to a maximum of €72 per month

    -Guaranteeing that women treated for cancer post-partum can postpone maternity leave during their treatment.

    According to the ICS’s director of advocacy, Rachel Morrogh, around 45,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2024 and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.

    “Timing is everything when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer. This is why we call for a protected cancer care pathway to ensure that people can access the diagnostic tests as and when they are needed, and access cancer treatment in a timely manner,” she commented.

    She pointed out that for many families, cancer-related costs are being compounded by the cost-of-living crisis. Furthermore, some people are being diagnosed with more advanced cancers “and the health service is buckling under increased and sustained pressure”.

    “The ICS believes that Budget 2024 is an opportunity to positively impact the future and that this pre-Budget submission charts a course towards that,” Ms Morrogh said.

    Debbie Kelleher, a clinical specialist radiation therapist, highlighted the importance of accessing treatment immediately.

    “For every patient with a cancer diagnosis, every second counts. The sooner treatment starts and finishes, the sooner they can look to the future. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying enough without the additional stress of wondering when treatment will begin,” she noted.

    Cancer Matters also focuses on children, adolescents and young adults (CAYA) with cancer. Every year in Ireland, over 360 young people aged under 24 are diagnosed with cancer. Around half of these are under the age of 15.

    The ICS said it wants to make sure that every young person diagnosed with cancer survives “and that they are able to live long, healthy lives without the social, psychological and financial impacts of cancer”.

    “Unfortunately, this is currently not the case. We are calling for significantly increased investment to ensure that government does more to provide financial supports for families and invests in cancer care throughout the entire lifecycle of every young person with cancer - from early detection through to treatment, survivorship care and end-of-life care.”

    The full pre-Budget submission cancer be viewed here.

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