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Support for regional provision of radiation oncology services

12 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, today attended a protest in Dublin organized by people from the South East calling for a radiation oncology unit at Waterford Regional Hospital. Deputy Ó Caoláin called for such a unit in each region and for an end to the "over-centralisation of services which means that very ill people have to travel long distances for treatment".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Radiotherapy units are needed in the main regions in this State. The provision of these units in Dublin, Galway and Cork only, as planned by the Government, and still undelivered, is totally unacceptable. Many people with cancer have to travel hundreds of miles for treatment. As a result they are receiving a poorer standard of care and have a poorer life expectancy.

"There is speculation that Health Minister Mary Harney may be about to announce plans for a private radiotherapy unit in Waterford with public access. While radiotherapy units in the public system should be provided in this and all other regions, if a private-operated facility is to be opened it must be fully accessible to all public patients on an equal basis with fee-paying patients. Anything less will fail the equality test and perpetuate the current two-tier system of healthcare delivery in this State.

"The Government has failed to deliver its promises on cancer care. Breast Check has not been rolled out as promised. As a result cancer will go undetected and lives will be lost. The National Cancer Registry has recorded that one in 13 women in Ireland will develop breast cancer and that a woman living in Ireland is four times more likely to die from cancer than her European counterpart."

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