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McGimpsey and Harney challenged over failure to discuss northwest satellite cancer centre

21 August, 2007


Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has formally written to six county Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and his 26 county counterpart Mary Harney calling upon them to prioritise the establishment of a satellite cancer centre in the northwest part of Ireland after he learned that the issue has not even featured in any discussions between both Ministers.

Pat Doherty said,

"In response to a written question I submitted to Health Minister Michael McGimpsey earlier this summer, about what discussions he has held with his 26 county counterpart Mary Harney regarding the establishment of a satellite cancer in the northwest, I was astounded to learn that the issue has not even featured in any discussions between both Ministers.

"This is despite their joint obligation to undertake collaborative projects on a cross-border basis to the benefit of people on both sides of the border and given that the disparity in access to cancer service provision is most acutely felt by people living in counties in the northwest part of Ireland it would have been expected that this issue would have been at the top of their agenda in terms of north/south co-operation.

"Planning and configuration of cancer service provision on an all-island basis would justify an oncology unit for the entire North West, serving both West Ulster and North Connaught instead of very ill patients from this region being forced to undergo the additional burden of repeated and prolonged journeys to the only existing units in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway.

"It is intolerable that cancer patients are subject to these long journeys and prolonged stays along away from home when there are two local hospitals (at either Altnagelvin or Letterkenny) that could house an Oncology Unit to meet the holistic needs of cancer patients in this part of Ireland.

"This provision is essential to redressing the disparity in access to cancer service provision on this island and I have now requested in writing to both Ministers that they now engage in substantive discussions on the issue so as to progress the development of a northwest satellite cancer centre as a matter of urgency." ENDS

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