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Doherty describes change of attitude towards NW Cancer Centre as significant

22 October, 2007

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty has described as 'significant' the recent change in attitude by North/South Health Ministers Michael McGimpsey and Mary Harney towards the demand for a satellite cancer centre to be established in the Northwest.

The local MP said,

"I welcome the fact that following years of intense campaigning and lobbying by many individuals, groups and elected representatives from throughout the North West that the demand for a satellite cancer centre to be established in the northwest was finally included on the formal agenda of the North/South Health Ministerial meeting in Dundalk on 5 October.

"Later that day 26 County Junior Health Minister Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, who was also present at the meeting, acknowledged that current cancer radiation services at Belfast City hospital are already over-subscribed, and that additional capacity would be required and that the viability of developing this additional capacity in a satellite cancer unit the northwest would now be investigated on a North/South departmental basis.

"This change of attitude was a welcome departure from the hitherto negative responses I had received from the respective health departments north and south on the issue.

"Following the 5 October North/South Ministerial meeting, I submitted a priority written question to Health Minister Michael Mc Gimpsey to ascertain whether he now shared this positive change of attitude on the issue. While his response said that he was 'not yet in a position to commit formally to the establishment of a satellite cancer centre in the North West' at this stage, I think that it is significant that he is no longer ruling this development out as previously was the case.

"Cancer patients in the North West counties are further removed from access to radiotherapy services than any other region of Ireland and I, along with other Sinn Féin representatives, will continue to lobby and work in support of the campaign until a satellite cancer centre based in the North West becomes fully operational." ENDS

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