Under the second National Cancer Strategy, in 2007 the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme initiated a programme of centralisation of cancer services to a smaller number of high-volume, specialist centres with the aim of optimising treatment and improving survival outcomes.
In relation to surgery, centralisation of cancer services is based on clear evidence that patients who are cared for in a multidisciplinary environment and operated on by surgeons who carry out high volumes of surgery in specialist centres, that themselves have high volumes, achieve better clinical outcomes.
As part of the overall centralisation model, Rapid Access Clinics for Breast, Lung and Prostate cancer were established in the 8 designated cancer centres, 4 in Dublin (Beaumont, Mater, St. Vincent’s and St James’s) and the others in Cork (CUH), Waterford (WUH), Limerick (UHL) and Galway (UHG - with Letterkenny University Hospital operating as a satellite for breast cancer services).
Centralisation of cancer services is providing better outcomes for patients in terms of quality of life and survivorship. There are no plans to increase the number of designated cancer centres.