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Health services must be regional priority

27 February, 2007


Speaking this morning from Derry's Altnagelvin hospital, Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly election candidate, Waterside Councillor Lynn Fleming has urged local health chiefs to prioritise the health needs of the region and to ensure that Altnagelvin builds upon existing services of healthcare delivery.

Cllr Fleming made her remarks to coincide with the visit of Sinn Féin Party President Gerry Adams who was today visiting the local hospital to lend his support for the retention of vital services at the Altnagelvin site.

Ms Fleming said:

"Sinn Féin has singled out healthcare as the single most important issue facing the public. Clinicians and patients alike share this view, a view that Sinn Féin aims to deliver on right across the island of Ireland. Altnagelvin has been for many years an integral part of healthcare delivery for people throughout the entire North West region.

"The recent launch of the consultation on the future of cytology and histology laboratory facilities could have potentially far reaching effects for people facing the fight against cancer and other illnesses. The removal of such an essential service will affect patients from Donegal, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone. The labs are the only accredited facility of its kind outside of the Belfast Metropolitan Area. Health chiefs need to listen to what people are telling us - the retention of key services at Altnagelvin is a must."

Ms Fleming also outlined that primary care provision and all associated services needs to be decentralised beyond Belfast if healthcare delivery is to mean anything to people of the North West region.

"Already we have seen the removal of post mortem provision to Belfast, which has caused added anguish and suffering for families who have lost loved ones.

"One of the key areas of work which the hospital is involved in is the ability or the capacity of the hospital to operate as a teaching facility. The potential downscaling or downgrading of teaching capacity from Altnagelvin to Belfast would be an enormous blow to all involved.

"Sinn Féin have been arduous in its campaign to see the establishment of regional cancer/oncology facility within the North West.

"Neurology services have been maintained at a minimal level for far too long within this region, despite the prevalence of a clearly identified need and demand for additional neurology beds and full time consultants based at Altnagelvin. There is no area or aspect, which is not affected whenever one aspect of healthcare provision is removed from such a key hospital like Altnagelvin.

"Let us work together in a spirit of putting people first, listening to and responding to what is needed and get on with the job of delivering first class health provision for those who need it - let all of us get it right." ENDS

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