Health Ministers support cross border initiatives at Altnagelvin Hospital

Health Minister Jim Wells, and  Irish Health Minister, Leo Varadkar,visit the new cardiology service and new Radiotherapy Unit. Included, from left, are Joe McHugh, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Elaine Way, Chief Executive, Western Trust, and Gerry Guckian, chairman, Western Trust. '''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

Health Minister Jim Wells, and Irish Health Minister, Leo Varadkar,visit the new cardiology service and new Radiotherapy Unit. Included, from left, are Joe McHugh, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Elaine Way, Chief Executive, Western Trust, and Gerry Guckian, chairman, Western Trust. '''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

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Health ministers from both sides of the border have been to Altnagelvin Hospital to view on progress on the Radiotherapy Unit which is to open next year.

Jim Wells, along with the Irish Health Minister, Leo Varadkar also viewed progress at the new cardiology service and said he supports the cross border partnership which will work together towards improving the health of both populations.

He said the PCI service at Altnagelvin has already benefited patients in Northern Ireland and has potential to help patients in the Republic of Ireland living in County Donegal by providing capacity for 50 primary PCI cases per year.

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to see the primary PCI service and the state of the art cath lab facilities. Cardiac catheterisation labs can be of enormous benefit to patients having a heart attack, allowing them to bypass the Emergency Department and go straight to the lab for treatment,” he said.

“These innovative, facilities are a shining example of the excellent work in the Western Trust.”

Minister Varadkar said: “Cross-border co-operation on health is one of the unsung successes of the Good Friday Agreement. People from Donegal will soon benefit from state of the art treatments for cancer and heart attack closer to home in Derry. At the same time, children from the North can have specialist heart surgery in Dublin and adults from south of the border can access Deep Brain Stimulation treatments in Belfast. There is even more scope for new exciting areas of future co-operation. We are an island of just over six million people and it makes sense to pool our resources to provide better health care for all our citizens.”

The Ministers also visited the site of the new Altnagelvin Radiotherapy Unit which will provide radiotherapy treatment to 90% of clinically suitable patients in the North West region, including the Republic of Ireland.

Minister Wells said after the visit: “This project is a joint effort between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and will improve access to radiotherapy for patients from both jurisdictions. I support partnership working between our two countries; each has a valuable input to this project and it makes sense to work together towards improving the health of both our populations.

“When fully operational, the Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin will be able to treat approximately 1,150 Northern Ireland patients and 385 Republic of Ireland patients each year. The unit will be fully operational by autumn 2016.”