Oncologist professor Seamus O’Reilly has said the unique identifying number used for every person who was vaccinated during the pandemic should continue to be used for all hospital treatments.
All health services should be harmonised, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Prof O’Reilly was commenting on concerns that there will be a huge increase in the number of cancer diagnoses post Covid-19. Referrals from GPs were turning into diagnoses with more cancer diagnoses in the first six months of 2022 than in all of 2019.
This was due to a “multiplicity of factors” he added. Prof. O’Reilly urged anyone with symptoms or concerns to seek care. Earlier detection will mean that less treatment will be required ultimately.
"It was easy to look back and say what could have been done better during the pandemic, but everything that could be done was done at the time.
"The system had been under pressure prior to the pandemic. Even if the health service were to freeze now it would take 11 years to clear the waiting lists,
“We’ve been here before. Cancer services were reengineered in the 1990s under the Cancer Strategy which saw the establishment of eight cancer care centres rather than every hospital offering cancer treatments. Ireland had also dealt with TB in the 1940s when Noel Browne introduced measures."
Recruitment and retention needed to be accelerated, at present it can take up to two years to replace personnel. There needed to be flexibility with contracts for surgeons.
“We need to do something now”.
The pandemic had presented the greatest challenge to the State in its history, there was now a “tremendous opportunity” to build on that. It would be a tragedy not to do so. There needed to be “unity of purpose” within the system.
Healthcare workers were already working hard, now they had to work better, he said.