I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, for attending. I rise to speak to her about the important and critical work of the Cuan cancer social support and wellness group in Cavan town. The service first opened its doors in the small town of Cootehill in 2012 and expanded to Cavan town in 2018 where it worked with Cavan County Council on the provision of a venue. Cuan provides support and nurturing for male and female cancer patients, in particular those who have come through their treatment. It is a community cancer support. This year, Cuan received a small but welcome grant from the Irish Cancer Society to assist with the provision of its service. Cuan is unique in the way it delivers its service. There are many good groups which provide comfort and services to cancer patients as they undergo treatment but Cuan's role is to provide services to patients and their families once their treatment has concluded. Cuan even provides services to families. It is about counselling and alternative therapies, including yoga, or even just a cup of tea and a chat with someone who has been through a similar experience. The ladies I have met who were among the founders of Cuan have all been through a journey of cancer treatment. The small grant towards the funding of its counselling service which Cuan receives from the Irish Cancer Society in no way meets the full cost of that service. Cuan offers a range of services free of charge and relies on fundraising and the generosity of the public. It feels that there is no transparent, equal or fair funding mechanism for support centres nationally, including Cuan.
In November 2018, Cuan joined with other services nationally and wrote to the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, about fair and equitable funding for cancer support services. In the same month, the Minister responded to advise that centres were funded through the HSE, section 39 of the Health Acts and lottery grants. In reality, HSE areas differ nationally in what they offer. Some services are funded while others are not and the level of funding varies considerably. All centres were advised to apply to their HSE area but when Cuan applied under section 39 it was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. In July 2019, the survivors' needs assessment was launched. The assessment demonstrated the ongoing psycho-social needs of cancer patients and survivors. At this time, community cancer support services were urged to apply for funding from the national cancer control programme. Centres were asked to calculate the amount requested on the basis of services being provided by full-time equitable posts.