Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Friday, 15th February 2008-Surgeons gather at RCSI to discuss Implementation of National Cancer Plan

15 February 2008

Over 200 surgeons from hospitals across the country gathered in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) yesterday to discuss the opportunities and challenges that the implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) will present. Representatives from the NCCP, Health Services Executive (HSE), Department of Health & Children (DOHC) and other stakeholders were also welcomed at RCSI for the day long meeting.

The NCCP involves a radical restructuring of the way cancer care services are delivered in Ireland, with 8 hospitals across the country designated as specialist cancer centres.  Professor Tom Keane, who is on secondment from the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada, and has been appointed as interim Director of the programme for the first 2 years of its implementation, was a guest speaker at yesterday’s event. 

Key outputs

The meeting marked the first step in a collaborative process between RCSI and the NCCP which aims to see the delivery of a world class patient focussed cancer service.

  • It was recognised that robust data is required to ensure and improve the quality of cancer care and the NCCP committed to develop a pilot audit system in partnership with RCSI. The role of clinical leadership and their participation in the successful implementation of the cancer strategy cannot be underestimated.

  • The role of clinical leadership and their participation in the successful implementation of the cancer strategy cannot be underestimated.

  • The roll out of the plan for the treatment of Breast Cancer is well underway.  The meeting also accepted that different cancer types may require different strategies for delivery.

  • The NCCP is putting in place a national leadership team of which RCSI Professor of Surgery, Prof Arnold Hill has been appointed National Advisor for Surgical Oncology.

  • The provision of dedicated funding to support the programme was welcomed.  However, the challenges associated with the restructuring of resources and the impact this will have was recognised.

The conference, entitled “Implementing the National Cancer Control Programme: Challenges and Opportunities in Surgery”, was held as part of the annual RCSI Charter Day meetings and represented the first significant opportunity for surgeons in Ireland to gather as a group and discuss their role in the implementation of the new plan.

Speaking at the opening of the day’s proceedings, Prof Tom Keane said:

“We are delighted that RCSI is participating in discussions to assist in moving forward the implementation of the Cancer Control strategy.

Emphasising the important leadership role that RCSI has to play in the delivery of surgical cancer services, the President of the RCSI, Prof Gerald O’Sullivan said:

Surgery is involved in the treatment of between 75 – 85% of the most common cancers, and therefore will continue to play a pivotal role in the delivery of these services.  This conference is just a first step in what RCSI believes will be a collaborative approach to improving cancer care in Ireland for the ultimate benefit of patients.”

While acknowledging the many challenges that lie ahead, Prof Arthur Tanner, Director of Surgical Affairs in RCSI, said:

“The RCSI recognises the role of the surgeon, as part of a multidisciplinary team, in the treatment of cancer. As the recognised training and standard setting body for surgery in Ireland, RCSI hopes to assist and contribute positively to the planning, coordination and implementation of the NCCP.