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Reilly commitment to Altnagelvin welcome but he must press McGimpsey to proceed – Ó Caoláin

31 March, 2011 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed the reiteration by Health Minister James Reilly of the Government’s commitment to the promised radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. Deputy Ó Caoláin said the Minister must now press Northern Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to reverse his decision to postpone the development of the centre which is vital for cancer care in the entire North-West of Ireland, on both sides of the Border.

Minister Reilly, replying to Dáil Questions tabled by Deputy Ó Caoláin and Donegal North-East Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, says he is “happy to reaffirm the Government’s support, both practical and financial”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

“The decision by the Health Minister in the Assembly, Michael McGimpsey, to postpone the development of the long-promised radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry was a retrograde step for cancer care on this island. His decision has met with widespread and cross-community opposition on both sides of the Border.

“Minister Reilly’s reiteration of the Government’s support for this vital project is welcome. However, he must go further. He must press Minister McGimpsey to reverse his postponement decision immediately and allow the radiotherapy unit to proceed.

“The development of the Altnagelvin radiotherapy unit is essential given the glaring gap in cancer care provision on this island, north of a line from Dublin to Galway. This is principally because of the flawed plan for radiotherapy centres introduced by the last Government under Health Minister Harney. The new Minister must revisit this plan.

“I note that in his reply Minister Reilly states that ‘Irish patients will comprise roughly one third of the number of patients who will attend the new centre’ at Altnagelvin. By this I presume he means patients who live in this jurisdiction. It is unacceptable for the Minister and his Department to suggest that those living in the Six Counties are not Irish.” ENDS

31.3.11


QUESTION NOS: 127 & 116
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Dr. James Reilly )
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 30/03/2011


* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if he has discussed with the Minister for Health in the six counties the decision to postpone the development of the radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry; if he will press for the reversal of this decision; if he has considered the implications for cancer care in this jurisdiction, particularly in the north-west, if this decision goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 30th March, 2011.

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children if he will reaffirm his commitment to co-funding the Radiotherapy Unit at Atnagelvin, Derry and if he will proactively engage with the next Minister for Health in the Northern Executive after the impending elections to ensure that this vitally important initiative is delivered.

- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 30th March, 2011.


REPLY.
The Government is committed to ensuring a high-quality radiotherapy service for the entire population of Ireland, including close collaboration with Northern Ireland, for services in the North West. I am happy to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to this vital radiotherapy project at Altnagelvin, which will benefit cancer patients on both sides of the border, and I have written to Minister McGimpsey confirming our support, both practical and financial, in this regard.

The Irish Government will work in partnership with our Northern Ireland counterparts on the development of this new facility. It is estimated that Irish patients will comprise roughly one third of the number of patients who will attend the new centre for radiotherapy services and therefore our contribution will equate to approximately one third of the full cost of the radiotherapy facilities.

The proposed development at Altnagelvin is substantial in scale, with high capital costs and revenue costs, because of the highly specialist and complex nature of the services which will be provided there. I recognise that the matter is being brought forward through the usual business case process within the Northern Ireland Health Services and my Department will continue to provide all the information needed to help the planning process to continue. I look forward to continued collaboration on this and other projects of benefit to patients in both jurisdictions.

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