Brexit must not jeopardise Altnagelvin service that saved 27 Donegal lives in first nine months: Dr. John Woods

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A ‘hard border’ must not be allowed to jeopardise a recently established cardiology service at Altnagelvin that saved 27 Donegal lives in its first nine months of operation or obstruct free cross-border access to a new radiotherapy unit that serves half a million people North and South.

That’s according to Dr. John Woods, the Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in the North, who fears Brexit will make life more difficult for Northern and Southern health service workers, who are already under “unprecedented pressure”.

“Unless appropriate agreements are implemented, there will be a substantial negative impact on doctors’ working lives.

“This will detrimentally affect patient care on both sides of the border,” said Dr. Woods.

The Belfast-based kidney consultant has warned members of the Seanad Brexit committee that a hard Brexit would be acutely felt, especially in the North West.

He explained that due to relatively small population concentrations, not least in the Derry and Donegal area, the two health services often find it difficult “independently providing some highly specialist services efficiently”.

This is why live-saving cross-border co-operation is essential, Dr. Woods told the committee.

“Our health services co-operate in providing high quality medical care to patients who live close to the border.

“Good examples are in cancer care and cardiac care. The new radiotherapy unit in Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry will provide access to radiotherapy services for over half a million people in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” said Dr. Woods.

“A cardiology service based at the same hospital provides primary angioplasty, which is the best treatment for heart attacks, for patients in Donegal and saved 27 lives in its first nine months of operation,” he added.

“These services directly benefit Irish citizens living in the north west of Ireland. “The existing open border arrangements facilitate such co-operation between our health services,” said the local BMA chief.