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Government cancer care strategy in chaos - Ó Caoláin

26 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the Government's cancer care strategy is "in chaos" following the admission by Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney and by Transport Minister Martin Cullen that there is a need for the treatment of public patients at the proposed new private radiotherapy facility in Waterford. The Government-commissioned Hollywood Report proposed only three radiation oncology centres based in Dublin, Galway and Cork and claimed that these would be sufficient to cater for the entire 26 Counties.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"In response to the determined campaign of people in the South East both the Minister for Health and Children and Fianna Fáil Waterford TD and Minister for Transport Martin Cullen have now stated that public patients will have access to the proposed new private radiation oncology facility in Waterford. This is an admission that the Hollywood Report is wrong in claiming that there is a need for radiotherapy centres at Dublin, Cork and Galway only. Yet the Government has based its centralised approach to cancer care on the Hollywood Report.

"Neither Minister has made clear how they will ensure equality of access for public patients in the private Waterford facility. I tabled this as a Dáil Question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children and her reply received yesterday makes no reference to the new facility. This is unsatisfactory.

"A number of other private radiation oncology facilities are planned for Dublin and this will lead to the further anomaly of multiple facilities in the capital city while the North East, the North West and the South West regions will have no radiotherapy services whatsoever. Very ill patients will continue to travel unacceptably long distances for vital treatment.

"The Minister for Health and Children now needs to clarify the Government's Cancer Care strategy and let public patients know exactly what services they can expect to receive." ENDS

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