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Colreavy slams Government parties over Sligo General Hospital U-Turn

1 June, 2011 - by Michael Colreavy TD

Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/North Leitrim Michael Colreavy has accused the Government parties of performing a u-turn on the issue of cancer services at Sligo General Hospital.

Deputy Colreavy had asked the Minister in a parliamentary question about the promised restoration of services at Sligo General Hospital. He said the response from the Minister was akin to what Fianna Fáil would have said when they were in power and showed that the current Government has reneged on its pre-election promise.

He pointed out that the Labour Party candidates described this issue as a red line issue during that campaign and that they would resign if cancer services were not restored within 100 days.

Speaking in Dublin today Deputy Colreavy stated:

“The reply received from the Minister showed that the current government have reneged on their election promise.

“There is no indication in the reply that there is any intention by the Government to designate Sligo General Hospital as a centre for excellence for breast cancer services nor indeed to restore breast cancer services that were removed from the hospital.

“The reply is exactly the same as what I would have expected from the previous government.

“I am disappointed on behalf of those sick patients who must continue to endure journeys from Sligo/North Leitrim to Galway and back again; providing a luxury bus does not and will not compensate for the removal of quality services from Sligo General.

“I am sure the people of Sligo, Leitrim and South Donegal will be disappointed also that the very clear promises made by FG and Labour will not now be delivered on. Both of the government parties promised that services would be restored within 100days of them taking office. Labour went further describing this as a red line issue and saying that they would resign if the service was not restored within 100 days. Their time is almost up.

“I intend to continue pressing this matter until Sligo General Hospital is restored to its rightful place as a centre of excellence for most regional services including breast cancer services. I will not let up until this happens.” ENDS

Question and Answer:

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Dr. James Reilly )
by Deputy Michael Colreavy
for ORAL ANSWER on 31/05/2011

To ask the Minister for Health and Children the reason cancer services at Sligo General Hospital have not yet been restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Michael Colreavy

Sligo General provides a significant range of cancer services. These include surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer and colorectal cancer, and chemotherapy services. Sligo has also been selected as one of the 15 candidate colonoscopy centres for the colorectal cancer screening programme to be launched next year.

Chemotherapy is still provided to all cancer patients in Sligo. I am pleased to confirm that recruitment of a second permanent medical oncologist is in train. For breast cancer patients specifically, there is a specialist breast nurse in place and detailed clinical pathways have been worked out for Sligo patients presenting with post-operative infection or other conditions, so as to minimise the need to travel to Galway.

Breast cancer diagnosis and breast surgery are the only cancer services to have ceased at Sligo General. Since November 2009, women in the Sligo area are provided with breast cancer diagnosis and surgery at Galway. As one of the two designated centres for the HSE West region, Galway has a critical mass of expertise, sufficient throughput of cases and relevant multi-disciplinary specialist skills in cancer services which, as outlined by international evidence, achieve the best outcomes for patients.

It is important to note that some 96% of women who attend the Galway unit do not have cancer, and only one visit is normally necessary. For the small number diagnosed with breast cancer, some 85% will require radiotherapy as well as surgery, which would involve treatment in Galway in any event.

A survey that was undertaken at Galway last year showed that of those resident in Sligo, 95% described the Galway service as either good or excellent.

I am continuing to explore with the National Cancer Control Programme how services can best be organised for the benefit of patients having regard to my commitment to putting quality at the heart of our healthcare system and to ensuring that quality and optimal care are paramount in decisions about the provision of services throughout the health system. I have recently met with Dr Susan O'Reilly, Director of the National Cancer Control Programme, and I will continue our discussions in this regard. My key concern remains the achievement of the best possible outcomes for patients generally and women in particular.

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