New Cancer Strategy For Northern Ireland

The Department of Health has announced plans to commission a new cancer strategy for Northern Ireland, a move welcomed by Cancer Focus NI.

The central aim will be to identify new ways of securing advancements to cancer care by working with patients, staff and cancer charities.

DoH Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said: "Significant progress has been made over the past 20 years in developing cancer services in Northern Ireland.

"This has involved investing in a wide range of preventative, treatment and care programmes that have contributed to improvements in survival rates for cancer patients. However, the anticipated demographic change in forthcoming years means there is likely to be a significant growth in demand for cancer services, and we must prepare for these challenges. A new strategy would help us do that."

The Department has explored various arrangements that support the development of cancer strategies in neighbouring jurisdictions, and sees merit in the model that was used by NHS England.

This involved the establishment of an Independent Cancer Taskforce which worked closely with professional cancer services, staff, patients, cancer charities, commissioners, care providers and other key stakeholder groups.
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Discussions are planned with local cancer charity representatives on the commissioning of the strategy and the potential development of a taskforce model.

Any decisions on the implementation of a new strategy would be for a future Health Minister.

Chief Executive of Cancer Focus NI, Roisin Foster, welcomed the news as a positive step in the right direction.

She said: "As one of a number of cancer charities, we look forward to working with the Department to bring this to fruition. We have been campaigning for a new cancer strategy for some time. Our last strategy was published 10 years ago and figures from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry predict incidences of the disease here will rise by almost two thirds by 2035.

"We also welcome the setting up of an Independent Taskforce. While we appreciate we can learn from other parts of the UK, I would hope that our cancer strategy would be very focused on a Northern Ireland solution involving local cancer charities and patients.

"The world of cancer is ever-changing and we need a cancer strategy now so that we can join up every aspect of cancer treatment and research, from prevention, earlier diagnosis, finding better treatments to delivering palliative care, and ensure that caring for people with cancer is central to the overall transformation of health and social care."


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