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Harney accused of neglect of North East Health Services

8 April, 2008


Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said the neglect of health services in the North West is reason enough for Taoiseach elect Brian Cowen to leave Health Minister Mary Harney out of his first cabinet. Senator Doherty called for the retention of existing cancer services at Sligo General Hospital and for the introduction of radiation services at the hospital.

Senator Doherty raised this issue as a matter on the adjournment of the Seanad today. He said, "At a public meeting last night people were singing the praises of the cancer services at Sligo General Hospital. The meeting heard that a patient can see a consultant on arrival at the hospital and will find out within two days if he/she has cancer or not.

"However the HSE under the guidance of the Minister for Health and Children is set to cut this service and others in hospitals throughout the state in favour of eight centres of excellence. None of these centres of excellence will be located north of a line from Dublin to Galway.

"The decision to take away hospital services is devastating the people of the North West many of whom will have to travel over 400 miles for cancer services. This causes extreme stress for patients as they have to leave their families for long periods of time. I have actually heard of cases where patients have actually opted for mastectomies rather than face the pressures of travelling for treatment.

"Not only must cancer services at Sligo General Hospital be retained but they must be extended to include the provision of Radiation Oncology. Cancer patients are being denied life saving treatment because successive governments have failed to provide radiation oncology facilities that are required. This dire need has been recognised for many years and the Government has had ample time in a booming economy to plan and budget for the provision of radiotherapy centres.

"Minister Harney is guilty of neglecting the health services of the North West. For this reason alone it would be unacceptable for Taoiseach elect Brian Cowen to allow her to retain her position when he chooses his first cabinet." ENDS

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