Credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

WATCH: Taoiseach says “get real” when asked about cancer care backlog

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin appeared angry following Deputy Peadar Tóibín’s call for a full resumption of cancer services.

Micheál Martin has called on one TD to “get real” today after the Taoiseach was asked why the government has reduced cancer services during the Covid-19 pandemic and only plans a full resumption towards the end of 2021.

The Taoiseach was visibly annoyed by Peadar Tóibín TD’s request that the government guarantee the immediate return of “full cancer services.”

Tóibín told the Dáil that “480 people will get cancer today. Tragically 24 people are likely to die of cancer today.”

“Late diagnosis, late treatment will lead to radically more advanced cancers coming into the system, and this will lead to greater levels of morbidity and it will lead to greater levels of death,” the Aontú leader explained.

“Why have the government reduced cancer services when the need is so important at the moment? And can the government guarantee that full cancer services will return immediately?” he asked the Taoiseach.

Martin said he found Tóibín’s “rhetoric extraordinary”, asking if he realised the country was in a “global pandemic.”

“No government has premeditatively decided to reduce cancer services. Like, get real. Get bloody well realistic,” the Taoiseach retorted.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t use the word ‘bloody’, but I just think it’s a bit much. I just genuinely do think it’s a bit much, through the chair.

“We want to provide the maximum of cancer services. The reason there have been backlogs is because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, which has had a terrible impact on frontline healthcare services.

“Now the National Cancer Control Programme have a schedule for the resumption of cancer services, because it’s very important and we want to get back to 100% of 2019 levels. And we’re making progress in some respects in doing that.

“And part of the reason for the very slow re-opening announced yesterday was to facilitate a resumption of services in healthcare. So the objective, I mean we’ve provided the resourcing, but there have been challenges because of Covid-19. That is obvious.

“There’s no one here in a premeditated way going out to reduce them (cancer services),” Martin finished.

Afterwards, Tóibín said their exchange “encapsulated how out of touch this government is.”

“There are so many families in the darkest places who are struggling to get life or death treatment and can’t. Yet the raising of their plight is met with contempt from the Taoiseach. This is an absolutely disgraceful comment and an insult to those fearful over the disruption of Cancer Services by the government’s policies,” he claimed.

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