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Ó Caoláin - Radiotherapy Report reinforces over-centralisation of services

9 October, 2003

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the recommended improvements in radiotherapy services contained in the report 'Radiation Oncology Services in Ireland'. However Deputy Ó Caoláin said the proposal to confine the main treatment centres to Dublin, Cork and Galway was "unacceptable" and "reinforces over-centralisation of services". Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"It is a scandal that less than one third of the patients who require radiotherapy in this State each year receive it. The report states that the shortfall of clinical radiation oncology services is of such a magnitude that a major investment programme is required to rapidly develop treatment services to acceptable modern standards. The Government must make that long overdue investment.

"The recommendation that radiotherapy units be confined to Dublin, Cork and Galway is unacceptable. Once again the over-centralisation of hospital services in this State is being reinforced. This is not a local party political issue as it is so often portrayed in the media. This is about accessibility to the best care for all our people. We want accessible care in the regions based on the real conditions in this country, and not based on population templates and arbitrary quotas imported from abroad.

"People in all the regions in this state north of a line from Dublin to Galway are being discriminated against in cancer care, as are those in the south-east, and southwest. This approach is flawed. Minister Martin promises to 'consider' the development of satellite centres at Waterford, Limerick and the North West. We need more than consideration. Radiation oncology should be provided in further centres to ensure that all who need it have access to comprehensive cancer care within their region." ENDS

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