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Minister for Health must intervene in north west cancer services debacle – Doherty

21 January, 2011 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Donegal Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has called on the Minister for Health and Children to directly intervene with her northern counterpart Minister Michael MicGimpsey who has as of last week, refused to provide funding for the north west radiotherapy unit in Altnegelvin, Derry.

Deputy Doherty made his comments in a debate he secured in the Dáil on Thursday evening.

Addressing the Minister, Deputy Doherty said:

“I welcome the statement from the Minister for Health and Children that the 26 county government remains committed to the funding of the radiotherapy unit in Altnegelvin, however I would urge the Minister to enter into direct face to face talks with Minister Michael McGimpsey who has as of last week, refused to provide the funding needed from his Department.

“Because of the unique nature of the Stormont executive, each Minister has authority over the funding of their own Department. Minister McGimpsey’s claims that he cannot meet the running costs because his budget has been cut are patently untrue.

“The Department of Health in the north was the only department not affected by Tory Government cuts; indeed his Department receives 50% of the entire block budget for the north.

“Particularly insulting to cancer sufferers is the fact that Minister McGimpsey, while claiming he has no money to run the cancer paid out £57 million in bonuses over the last five years to his top earning staff. That would more than pay for the running costs over a number of years.

“The reality is Minister McGimpsey is playing politics with people’s lives. He needs to live up to his commitments and provide the necessary funding for the unit. I would urge the 26 county Minister for Health to enter into direct talks with Minister McGimpsey in order to address this issue and allay the fears of cancer sufferers and their families.” ENDS

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