Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, has welcomed the Bengoa report’s key recommendations and the Health Minister’s resolve to implement them.
“It’s very clear that our Health and Social Care service needs major reform in order to be sustainable for the future, so it’s crucial that the report’s recommendations are implemented.
“Our main concern is the best outcome for cancer patients. We believe this may be achieved by the proposed centralisation of specialist cancer services, continuing to develop and progress our centres of excellence, coupled with additional cancer services to be delivered locally where possible.
“As outlined in the report, investing in this transition is of key importance. In order for the reform to be successfully implemented, the proposed plans need to be funded appropriately and have full political backing.
“The number of people being diagnosed with cancer every year is increasing, so the move to invest in preventative measures – helping people to reduce their risk of cancer and live well for longer – is very welcome. But we also need targeted work to reduce cancer waiting times immediately, to lower patient anxiety and the fear that their cancer is progressing while they wait.
“With any change there will be challenges, but we have confidence that the Health Minister will provide the strong political leadership necessary to implement a major reform. However, we are asking for measurable targets and dates, and accountability if the dates given are not met.
“Meanwhile we repeat our call for a fresh vision and strategy for cancer services, with ambition to be a core part of this process, holding the best interests of cancer patients at the forefront of all that we do.”