The projected rise in cancer cases represents one of the biggest challenges facing our health service, Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle has warned.
Professor McArdle has been appointed chair of the Department of Health steering group tasked with developing a new 10 year cancer strategy for N Ireland.
The Chief Nursing Officer was commenting ahead of a meeting at Stormont today to discuss the way forward on the strategy. The meeting will be attended by people with lived experience of having cancer, as well as charities, healthcare professionals and senior Health and Social Care managers.
Professor McArdle said: “The projections for the future make stark reading. In the period 2009-2013, there were 4,347 male and 4,175 female cases of cancer diagnosed each year in NI. By 2026, this is expected to rise by 43% for men and by 40% for women - to approximately 6,200 and 6,000 cases per year respectively.
“The anticipated growth in the incidence of cancer is directly attributable to the fact that people are living longer.
“It is imperative that we act now to meet the challenge. A fully comprehensive new strategy for the period 2020 to 2030 will help us direct our skilled workforce and resources most effectively.
“It is very clear we will need to identify new ways of working. The development of a new strategy is very much part of the transformation agenda for health and social care.”
Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly announced in March that a new cancer strategy is to be commissioned.
Mr Pengelly said today: “The Department’s appointment of the Chief Nursing Officer as chair of the steering group underlines the priority we are attaching to this work.
“In keeping with the principles of co-production, today’s meeting is a first step in engaging with a wide range of people on the new strategy. This is a genuine partnership approach which seeks to bring people together to find shared solutions and the best outcomes for patients and their families.
“We have made great strides in tackling cancer over the last decade and I wish to see that progress continue. There is much more we need to do and a new strategy will help us to do that. It is intended that the strategy will be completed by June 2020.”
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