ECO: 100 Million Cancer Screenings did not go ahead During the Pandemic & an Estimated One Million Cancer cases could be Undiagnosed in Europe
Responding to the report from the European Cancer Organisation that 100 million Cancer Screenings did not go ahead during the pandemic, Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has warned we are beginning to see the cost of Lockdowns on Cancer Screening Services impacting society.
An Teachta Tóibín:
“From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Irish governments adopted a singular approach to Covid-19. There is no doubt that there were times when Covid-19 looked likely to swap the Health System but the government remained blinkered to all other health concerns for much longer than these periods”.
“Unlike other nations who adopted more forensic measures against Covid-19, the Irish Government implemented by far the harshest measures in Europe with three total lockdowns and over 200 days of workplace closures. During this period the healthcare response to equally grave threats such as Cancer has been decimated. 9,000 people died from Cancer in Ireland last year. This is well over three times the number of excess deaths the CSO estimate happened during the Covid Pandemic. Each of these deaths is a tragedy for the individual and the family and the cause of each death should be properly responded to by the Health service”.
“Yet that’s not what is happening. Cancer screening and treatment services have been continually disrupted over and over again. Cancer Screening services were suspended from March 2020 through to the end of October 2020. Then under the government’s new Covid-19 plans, Cancer services will not return until the end of 2021. This is shocking. There is no logical argument for this”.
“Figures I have received from the National Screening Service show Cancer Screening Targets are being missed by the hundreds of thousands. It will take years to clear the backlog. Every screening missed and every delay is Cancer’s opportunity to further devastate lives. This disastrous situation is not just as a result of Covid, but of government policy to cut critical services even when they could be facilitated. The Taoiseach told me to ‘get real’ when I raised the issue with him directly in the Dáil, dismissing the issue entirely. This issue is real for me. I, like many others have had cancer and know the threat it is to your life.”
“The particulars of the ECO study make for harrowing reading. According to the ECO, ‘the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that: An estimated one million Cancer cases could be undiagnosed in Europe, an estimated 100 million Cancer screening tests were not performed in Europe during the pandemic, leading to later stage diagnoses and decreased overall survival, up to 1 in 2 people with potential cancer symptoms were not urgently referred for diagnosis, and 1 in every 5 cancer patients in Europe is currently still not receiving the surgical or chemotherapy treatment they need.’ Due to the level of our restrictions and disruption of Cancer services, those figures on a per capita basis could be worse in Ireland. I am calling on the government to immediately resume Cancer screening and treatment services in full, whilst also commission a study into the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic upon our Cancer services.”