Cancer services commitments

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The outcome of urgent talks into the future of cancer services at Letterkenny General Hospital has been welcomed but a leading campaigner said the “proof is now in the pudding.”

A meeting took place on Friday between senior members of the Saolta Hospital Group, HSE, NCCP, Department of Health, a number of cancer community groups, Minister Joe McHugh and Oireachtas members.

At the meeting, it was confirmed that a General Surgeon will be appointed in the next four months, as well as two locum GPs to support the breast cancer unit. It was also confirmed that the process of recruiting an Advanced Nurse Practitioner has commenced.

Betty Holmes, of Donegal Action for Cancer Care, confirmed to the Journal that a planned rally scheduled for this Sunday in Letterkenny has now been postponed but added that the services and positions promised must be adhered to.

She described the outcome of Friday’s meeting as “positive” and said everyone was allowed to speak and share their views.

The group have since written to the Minister for Health asking that the agreed actions and commitments be put in a timeframe; that all questions they submitted before the meeting be answered; that a date be set for a follow-up meeting, preferably in May, and that he attend.

Betty said if these aren’t delivered then the rally will have to go ahead.

She stressed that while the future of the breast clinic has been to the forefront in recent weeks, they are also seeking confirmation on the future of all cancer services, including prostrate and bladder.

She pointed out how DACC have always sang the praises of the works ar Letterkenny Hospital, adding that the issues were a regional and national problem.

“It’s 111km to the nearest Iarnroid Eireann station in Sligo. A patient travelling to Dublin’s nearest motorway is 290km and 170km through the North.

“We are the worst positioned geographically in the whole country and they expect out old and sick to travel huge distances. “