Cancer Focus NI welcomes regional cancer reset cell.
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has welcomed the Health Minister’s initiative to establish a regional cancer reset cell to oversee the resumption of screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in clinically safe environments as quickly as possible and to protect these services as much as possible in the event of further potential surges of Covid-19.
Dervilia Kernaghan, head of care services, Cancer Focus NI, said: “We recognise how quickly the health service has responded to the challenges of Covid 19 and how hard health care staff are working in very challenging circumstances.
“However, reorganising the health service to cope with the demands of Covid has come at the cost of postponing planned treatment and areas such as screening.
“We are very concerned about the impact of paused screening programmes and the potential for late diagnosis.
“Cancer Focus NI has been an advocate on behalf local people for all cancer services to be prioritised during this ongoing crisis and we welcome the Health Minister’s plans to attempt to address this issue.
“It will take some time for the backlog to be reduced and we will continue to push for cancer services to be at the top of the agenda.”
The charity, which facilitates the NI Assembly’s All Party Group on Cancer at Stormont, said it would also continue to work alongside partners to inform a comprehensive, well-resourced Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland to be implemented as soon as possible.
Ms Kernaghan added: “We know that early diagnosis and treatment saves lives.
“Paused screening, along with delays in treatment, places enormous stress on people and on their families, who are waiting and worrying.
“Those who have already been diagnosed are fearful that their condition will worsen and require more complex treatment if their treatment is delayed. For many cancer patients time is not a luxury they can afford.”