Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Call For Regional Cancer facility for North West

26 April, 2006


West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty remains optimistic that a Regional Cancer facility for the North West can be secured following NIO Health Minister Shaun Woodward's response to lobbying by the local MP on the issue.

Pat Doherty said,

"While Shaun Woodward's response majored on the merits of the recently opened cancer facility in Belfast as a world class facility and its capacity to deal with the holistic treatment and care needs of all cancer patients in the north west he nonetheless said that it would be important to take full account of the future role and contribution of the Cancer Centre to the regional network of cancer services.

"In this context he said, "when we are in a position to assess how effectively the Cancer Centre responds to future and current demands, it may be appropriate to consider further developments in the provision of Cancer Services.

"While I understand the merits of the Belfast Cancer Centre as a centre of excellence at the leading edge of treatment and care there is no reason why cancer treatment and care services cannot be provided in a local setting at either Altnagelvin or Letterkenny.

"It is intolerable that cancer patients are subject to long journeys and prolonged stays along way away from home when either of these two hospitals could easily house an Oncology Unit to meet the present demand for the full range of cancer treatment services in the north west region - a demand that is unfortunately projected to grow in years ahead.

"The campaign for a Regional Cancer Centre to be located in the North West is backed by two eminent medical clinicians. Both Dr Dermott Hughes, Pathologist at Altnagelvin and Dr Russell Houston, Clinical Director of Oncology & Haematology, at Belfast City Hospital have called for the establishment of a satellite radiotherapy and multidisciplinary oncology treatment unit to be located in the region. The is also supported by Dr Tom McGinley of Foyle Hospice who has highlighted the importance of bringing the services to those who need them rather than cancer patients having to go to the service.

"Given the prevalence of all forms of cancers in the North West region of Ireland and the fact that it has the highest Cancer mortality rates in the Western world the local provision these oncology services is a priority issue for Sinn Féin.

"I am still awaiting the response from the An Tánaiste Mary Harney and the Dublin government on the demand for a North West regional cancer facility. However, it is clear that if the political will exists in the administrations north and south, that the provisions in the Good Friday Agreement for seamless healthcare mean that there should be no constraints standing in the way of a regional cancer facility for the north west." ENDS

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