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We need all-Ireland and regionally based cancer services - Ó Caoláin

13 November, 2006

Commenting on the agreement being signed today (Monday) between Health Minister Mary Harney and the authorities in the Six Counties to promote more co-operation between North and South in cancer services, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said what is needed is "all-Ireland and regionally based cancer services". After meeting the Donegal Action for Cancer Care Committee in Letterkenny this afternoon, Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:

"While further co-operation in health services on a cross-border basis is welcome, the agreement being signed by Minister Harney falls far short of what is required. She is still basing her strategy for cancer treatment services on a plan that will locate radiation oncology services in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford only. The northern half of the island will be ill-served by this plan. Patients in North Leinster and the southern Border counties will have to travel to Dublin. There is a limited plan for patients from Donegal to be facilitated in the Six Counties. Minister Harney needs to be reminded that cross-border service delivery is a two way street.

"What is needed is a truly all-Ireland and regionally based cancer treatment service. Radiation oncology should be delivered within the regions. Cancer sufferers are being subjected to long and painful journeys for treatment. Many patients feel too ill to travel and choose not to avail of radiotherapy as a result. The resources are there to deliver radiotherapy on a regional basis and Minister Harney needs to go back to the drawing board." ENDS

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