Regional networking of services was one of the key recommendations in the National Cancer Strategy. It states that in order for patients to have the optimum care, streamlining of cancer services on a regional basis is essential. As such the development of the Regional Oncology Programme Office has provided many useful examples of how to develop initiatives that enable successful regional cancer projects. The aim is to coordinate and consolidate the efforts among cancer care professionals on the ground and to optimise resources.
The Regional Oncology Programme Office’s (ROPO), main remit is the improvement and development of cancer services throughout the Region through health communications, health promotion, health education, service improvement and advocacy under the leadership of the Regional Director, Cancer Services.
Located in St. James’s Hospital this office has developed into a centre for streamlining the services throughout the Region. It is used as a resource to enable and mobilise efforts in cancer care services among the institutions in the area of communications, health education, service improvement and advocacy. Aiding in the management educational initiatives, expansion of the cancer audit information system, it functions as a focal point for building strong collaborative relationships with Regional and National bodies.
According to the National Cancer Registry, cancer causes around 7,500 deaths each year in Ireland which translates into one-quarter of all deaths every year. The total number of cancers is predicted to increase from 27,000 to 42/43000 by 2020. With an average of about 27,023 new cases of cancer recorded annually. Ireland currently has a higher mortality from cancer than the average for EU countries. (National Cancer Registry – www.ncri.ie). Prevention and early detection of cancer means better and easier treatment. Health education is key to promote early detection.
The Regional Oncology Communications and Health Promotions area of ROPO has developed, created and project managed the following initiatives with a view to supporting health education, develop service improvement and advocacy. To find out more about these projects please see links below.
Health Education (PDF 2,341Kb)
Health Promotions - Information, Education and Awareness (PDF 1,952Kb)
Service Improvement - Information, Promotion and Fundraising (PDF 2,454Kb)
Service Improvement - Strategic (PDF 2,286Kb)
GP referral guidelines are an essential part of the development of any cancer service. They provide a clear map of cancer services across the region and aim to assist the general practitioner in his/her referral decisions relating to cancer.
The Regional Oncology Programme Office created and developed the General Practitioner Cancer Referral Guidelines booklet for the South West of Dublin over 5 years ago.
This was the first time that 11 site-specific guidelines had been agreed across one of the largest cancer networks in the country. The agreement of these guidelines highlights the strong commitment of cancer professionals in the acute hospitals to enhance the communication process with their partners in care in primary care.
The Guidelines function was taken by the HSE-NCCP and so the remaining function in the Regional Oncology Programme Office is that of the Regional Oncology Communication and Health Promotion as defined: ‘Health Communication and Health Promotion involves a combination of Health Education, Service Improvement and Advocacy.’
The Regional Oncology Programme Office created a strategy for managed control networks:
- It has supported the development of the cancer nurse co-ordinators across the region.
- It developed the first 11 site specific regional GP cancer referral guidelines.
- It created a communication platform developing educational events and seminars such as the International Cancer Conference, the All Ireland Nursing Conference in Breast Care, the Adolescent cancer conference, fundraising initiatives in Breast Care and Prostate cancer and assisted the developments in breast care in both major hospitals in the region.
- It enabled the clinical audit programme to exist.
- It also developed cancer health promotion informational leaflets in skin, psycho-oncology and palliative care.
- It supported the development of patient information DVDs in cancer related fatigue, oesophageal cancer and palliative care.
- Working with Dublin City Council it developed three major campaigns on cancer awareness and prevention in the community called Your Health is Your Wealth.
- The Regional Oncology Communications and Health Promotions Officer project managed and was instrumental in the successful bid for the radiation centre for the Eastern Region now located at St. James’s Hospital making St. James’s Hospital one of the largest cancer services providers in the country.