Background and Context:The number of cancer survivors in Ireland is predicted to double in the next 25 years. This is due to early detection and effective treatment combined with a growing incidence due to an ageing population. Our National Cancer Control Programme(NCCP) has identified survivor health and care needs as an urgent priority for development and established a National Survivorship Programme.
Aim:The aim of the Programme is to improve the quality of survivorship care in Ireland for cancer patients and their families.
Strategy/Tactics:Our strategic approach to meet this aim involves:
• Providing national leadership to drive developments
• Developing guidance for patients and healthcare professionals
• Empowering patients
• Integration between primary care, secondary care and the voluntary sector
Programme:We established a consultative forum to bring together patients, clinicians, policy makers and advocacy groups. The forum has developed an action plan which will be implemented using established structures and networks.
A Patient Treatment Summary and Care Plan will be provided to all cancer survivors and their general practitioners after active treatment is complete. Information and guidance is being developed for patients and healthcare professionals. This includes guidance in recognising and addressing treatment side effects. Prevention and lifestyle advice will be delivered through established services and agencies. An integrated evidence-based system will be required to support the delivery of appropriate surveillance and follow up.
What was learned:The NCCP will facilitate national developments in survivorship care. This includes learning and adopting from good practice in Ireland and internationally. This is the beginning of a process in which collaboration within the health-service and with other agencies will increase communication, integration of services and alignment of strategic goals. A Patient Treatment Summary and Care Plan is now being implemented. This will empower patients and support primary care to provide lifelong survivorship care for any consequences of surviving cancer and its treatments.