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Current cancer strategy failing North-West and North-East – Ó Caoláin

21 May, 2008


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson and Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has moved an amendment to a Private Members Motion in the Dáil on cancer services in the North West. Deputy Ó Caoláin said while he supports the original motion it is necessary to highlight the fact that the North-East region is also neglected under the current cancer strategy.

Deputy Ó Caoláin also said those who vote for the Government amendment are voting for the ending of services at Sligo, Mayo and the Dóchas Centre in Drogheda.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Sinn Féin is supporting the substance of the motion in the name of the Fine Gael and Labour deputies and we are adding to it. We feel it is necessary to highlight the fact that the North-East region is also neglected under the current cancer strategy. It is necessary to set out what we see as the solution for Letterkenny and to strengthen the call for the all-Ireland delivery of services. And of course we fully support the retention and further development of cancer services in Sligo and Mayo and at the Dóchas Centre in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

"The proponents of total centralisation of all hospital care are far removed from the reality on the ground. Part of that reality is patients dying because they have too great a distance to travel to hospital. It means people choosing not to be treated or choosing less than optimum treatment in order to avoid the disruption to themselves and their families of travelling long distances for that treatment.

"No-one is arguing for radiation oncology facilities and a full spectrum of other cancer services in every hospital in the country. But eight centres with such facilities are too few and they are, as I and others have repeatedly pointed out, totally unbalanced in terms of regional spread, leaving much of the population very badly served or not served at all.

"People should be very clear on the position being taken by Government and Government-supporting Deputies in the vote this evening. There is nowhere for them to hide. If they vote for the Government amendment they are voting for the total centralisation of cancer services and the ending of services at Sligo, Mayo and the Dóchas Centre in Drogheda. They are voting for eight centres which will be overburdened and which will not provide comprehensive coverage across the country. I appeal to those government and Government-supporting deputies to make a stand tonight and especially to those in the regions north of the Dublin-Galway line which are so badly served by this plan. Listen to your communities and to the front-line healthcare workers." ENDS

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