Cancer campaigners welcome news on radiotherapy unit
Two Donegal patient advocate groups welcomed this week’s announcement work is to begin on Altnagelvin’s regional radiotherapy unit. However some Inishowen cancer survivors remain sceptical.
A fearful cancer patient who contacted the Journal questioned the new unit’s ability to to cope with the steadily increasing number of Donegal cancer cases.
She said: “I am also aware there are many cancer patients in rural Donegal who would prefer to be treated in their own country, in Letterkenny, Dublin or Galway. They see travelling to Derry as going to another country, with which they are not comfortable or familiar.
“Given the current economic climate, I also wonder if the government in Dublin is going to have the money to contribute to the building and running of the new unit, not to mention the commissioning of treatment.”
Ian Moore, the director of strategic capital development with the Western Health and Social Care Trust, said the unit will be under way within weeks.
Speaking at a public information evening in Letterkenny General Hospital he said the trust has approved two “enabling works contracts” totalling £4m.
He said: “The work on Altnagelvin’s regional radiotherapy unit will commence on site within weeks, whilst concurrently, over the forthcoming months, we will continue to progress detailed scheme planning, select list preparation and tendering for the main radiotherapy scheme.”
Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) spokesperson Mrs Betty Holmes said she was delighted the regional radiotherapy unit was going ahead.
The Newtoncunningham women said: “DACC remains focussed on the fact cancer patients in Donegal deserve the best medical treatment available. This should be provided in the new radiotherapy unit, which is scheduled to open in 2016. My only slight concern would be that the health budget in Donegal is being cut again. Hopefully the funds for the radiotherapy unit will be ring-fenced and Donegal cancer patients will have access to high quality radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”
During Tuesday night’s presentation, Ian Moore confirmed the unit will provide radiotherapy and chemotherapy for curative and palliative purposes.
He said: “This treatment will be offered for all but the most complex of tumours. Approximately ten percent of patients from each jurisdiction will still need to be treated in either Belfast or Dublin.
“The unit will treat approximately 400 Donegal patients per year. It will have three linear accelerators and four treatment bunkers, a CT simulator for planning treatment, a mould room, a superficial x-ray system, a CT scanner and an MRI scanner for diagnostics. We will also have 27 inpatient beds and record, verify and treatment planning systems.”
Mr Moore added the unit will employ 220 staff drawn from all specialised professional and support disciplines and provide a comprehensive radiotherapy service.
Speaking on behalf of Co-operating for Cancer Care North West (CCCNW) Ms Noelle Duddy said health professionals in Donegal and Derry are working well together.
She said: “The departments of health in Donegal and Derry are working together to develop clinical pathways that will provide a world class radiotherapy service for future cancer patients in this Region.
“CCCNW believes north south co-operation for this radiotherapy unit is a win, win situation for everyone, for cancer patients, healthcare professionals, politicians and for the tax payer on either side of the border.”
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Weather for Derry
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 12 C to 16 C
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