Health Ministers visit Radiotherapy Unit site at Altnagelvin

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The two Health Ministers from both sides of the border inspected the site of the new Radiotherapy Unit and visited the new cardiology service at Altnagelvin Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The site visit was also attended by Minister Joe McHugh TD, who welcomed the progress of the new services, adding they would have huge benefits for patients both north and south.

He said: “I would like to commend the cross border work that both Departments of Health in the North and South have been engaging in over the last decade, leading to the further progress of services at Altnagelvin Hospital, and to the benefit of the surrounding communities, especially Donegal.

“Construction of the new Radiotherapy Unit commenced last year and is due to open to patients in 2016. The Unit will provide radiotherapy treatment to the vast majority of patients in Donegal and the North West region and will lead to a reduction in travel times, with both patients and their families and friends benefitting from the treatment and quality of care.”

Deputy McHugh also acknowledged the “hard work and efforts” of local groups who have been raising the need for the service over the last decade, “including Noelle Duddy and the Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest, CCC(NW), who have played a key role in helping to ensure that these services are provided.”

He added: “The Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PPCI) service at Altnagelvin, which is part of a region-wide cardiology service, commenced on 15 September 2014. PPCI, often known as angioplasty, is a non-surgical procedure used to treat coronary heart disease. The PPCI 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. The model of service provision recommended ensures that patients from the North West who require PPCI, will receive the treatment within 90 minutes of having a STEMI-type heart attack, where possible. 70 people have a STEMI in Donegal each year and they will now have access to PPCI treatment in Altnagelvin.

“The Irish Government is making a capital contribution of €19m towards the total radiotherapy project cost of around £66m, and they will also make annual payments for the provision of services to people from the Republic of Ireland. 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.”