The Irish medical community is facing a serious shortage of specialist doctors in the field of breast cancer.
The lack of doctors in this field has been blamed on the recent Government Budget which will see the Irish Cancer Council pay for only a quarter of the number of specialists that it needs to train its workforce to treat the illness.
Dr David McNeill, a consultant in oncology and director of the Mayo Clinic’s oncological sciences unit, told The Irish MailOnline that the shortage is particularly acute because the growth in breast cancer in the country has been exponential.
“I think it is an important factor for people to realise that the growth rate of breast cancers in Ireland is going to be very, very rapid,” Dr McNeill said.
“We have the highest rate of growth in the world.”
“That means we are very, VERY vulnerable to the new disease.”
Dr McNeil said that it has become very clear that the disease will become even more prevalent in the future, and that the country needs a huge influx of specialists.
He said the Irish medical workforce is now “barely able to meet demand”.
Dr McNeill also warned that it is very likely that the Government will increase the amount of funding for breast cancer research, which he said is “not going to happen”.
“I don’t think we will have an increase in funding at all,” he said.
Dr McNeil warned that the current funding for research is not enough.
“It is going from a few hundred thousand a year to about five million a year and I don’t know how we are going to deal with it,” he added.
“And we will need to get our researchers in more places.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the Government is looking at the situation and the issues that are facing our cancer patients and will make decisions as they go.
“The Government will continue to invest in the development of cancer research and research into breast cancer,” she said.
“The Government is also committed to investing in breast health, and we will ensure that every single cancer patient has the care they need.”
Dr McConnaught said that there are now over a hundred cancer research centres across the country, and it is only a matter of time before more facilities are established.
“This is the time of year when we get to invest more in research and we are in the final stages of that, which means that we will be getting the cancer drugs faster and faster,” he explained.
“We are seeing an increase of new centres being established in the last year.”
At the moment we are looking at increasing our research funding and this is part of the Government’s overall strategy.
“A spokesman for the Mayo Cancer Centre said that the number and the nature of the jobs available are still under review, but that it had been able to find enough staff to support the number it needs.