Poland drafts systemic cancer programme

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

The government is preparing legislation that will set up a new system for the treatment of cancer patients, the health minister has said.

Speaking at an oncology centre in Kielce, south-eastern Poland, Adam Niedzielski said the bill on cancer treatment should be ready by the end of March, and the new system should be operational from 2022.

Thursday's conference, also attended by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, was organised on World Cancer Day.

"We have made a decision to transform a pilot programme into a systemic solution," Niedzielski said, pledging that a relevant bill would be ready "by the end of March."

Poland is currently running its National Oncology Network programme as a pilot scheme.

Niedzielski said that a 2022 introduction date was needed in order to give centres joining the new network time “to prepare becoming operational and to meet quality standards."

Every patient diagnosed with cancer will be offered consultation not only from one centre, but also from a reference centre, according to Niedzielski.

"We have decided to assign a treatment coordinator to every patient," Niedzielski said, explaining that the coordinator will guide the patient thorough the entire treatment process and a single coordinator will supervise up to 40 patients.

The health minister also announced the establishment of a dedicated helpline that will guide patients, assist in making appointments and provide contact with their coordinator.

Prime Minister Morawiecki said cancer kills more than 100,000 Poles every year and added that "the National Oncology Network will significantly improve the quality of cancer treatment on all levels."

He added his government had nearly doubled spending on oncology over the past five to six years.