Dáil Éireann - Volume 476 - 25 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Cancer Treatment Services.

26. Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to extend the range of facilities and resources for cancer treatment services in the North-Eastern Health Board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8141/97]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): Last November, I published a national cancer strategy as a wide-ranging statement of policy on the future development and improvement of cancer services in Ireland. The strategy is aimed at reorganising cancer treatment services, devoting resources to screening and early detection programmes of proven value, developing specialist palliative care and facilitating a more co-ordinated approach to cancer research.

Earlier this month, I announced a detailed action plan to fund and implement the cancer initiatives which included a breakdown by region of the different developments which will come on stream in 1997. In relation to the North-Eastern Health Board, I was pleased to announce a range of developments which will significantly enhance cancer diagnostic and treatment services in the region. Specifically, these improvements include:—

The appointment of a regional director for cancer services, Dr. Deborah Condell, who will have responsibility for organising and auditing the region's cancer services on a continuing basis.

Funding has been approved to enable the board to provide additional medical oncology services on an interim basis pending the appointment of a new medical oncologist for the region.

A post of consultant haematologist will also be approved and details of this post will be agreed in tandem with the appointment of the new medical oncologist.

The North-Eastern Health Board will also form part of phase I of the screening programme for breast cancer. In addition, the chairperson of the steering group for the breast screening programme is the programme manager for hospital services in the North-Eastern Health Board area, Dr. Sheelah Ryan.

I am confident that the plans contained in the national cancer strategy will deliver on the promise I made on taking office to significantly improve the co-ordination and delivery of cancer services.