"Cancer services need to be fully reopened now!" - Tóibín
The Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has secured statistics from the Department of Health which show that GP referrals for Rapid Access Clinics are up 53% on last year and up 26% on 2019's figures.
Responding to the statistics released to him, Meath-based Deputy Tóibín said:
"The statistics released to Aontú are very concerning. There were fewer people diagnosed with cancer in 2020 in Rapid Access Clinics when compared with 2019, and there were fewer people receiving chemotherapy in 2020 than there were in 2019. Fewer people attended Rapid Access Clinics in 2020 than in 2019. What the 2021 statistics show, I believe, is the impact of the pandemic on the services - this year the number of GP e-referrals to Rapid Access Clinics stands at an astounding 153% of the figures for the same period in 2020, and 126% of the figures for 2019"
Deputy Tóibín continued: "This is extremely alarming. We all know someone who sufferred a delayed diagnosis or delayed treatment for cancer due to the government's restrictions within the health service. I was diagnosed almost a year ago - I'm now out the other end of it thank God, but many more weren't as lucky. For me the most frightening aspect of these statistics is that the Minister has told me he seeks the "restoration of cancer services to 95% of pre covid levels" - this is shameful. Cancer services need to be reopened fully now! Cancer services are essential. Cancer is a public health threat. All the Covid patients in hospital in this country could fit into a regular sized Dublin bus at the moment. It is our view in Aontú that services should be fully reopened and should be operating at an increased capacity in order to deal with the backlogs in the system rather than at a decreased capacity. Lives are at stake here!", concluded Tóibín.