Cancer unit must have ‘resources’

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Derry’s new radiotherapy unit will be the “Rolls Royce” of cancer treatment centres in Ireland, a Derry MLA says.

Mark H Durkan, of the SDLP, was speaking after Assembly members met with senior management officials from the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT).

Design work has already started on the £50 million satellite unit at Altnagelvin Hospital which is due to open in 2016.

Mark Durkan said: “I am delighted to hear that the radiotherapy unit is on schedule, that the business case has been approved and that the design team has been appointed.

“This centre is a landmark project in that it has been brought about through North-South collaboration. The SDLP envisaged the fruits of this collaboration and campaigned hard to secure the radiotherapy centre here.

“The point I raised with the Trust this week is the importance of the human resource factor in the project. The staff quotient must be of sufficient size, skill and sustainability.

“I also sought assurances of recurrent funding for the project after the capital work is completed.

“This centre will be the Rolls Royce of radiotherapy units on this island, but there is no point having a Rolls Royce if you have no petrol, and the staff are the fuel to drive forward the unit into a sustainable future.”

New technology, says the Foyle MLA, will allow huge increases in cancer treatment and will alleviate difficulties in Belfast and Dublin where patients from the North-West have frequently had to travel for treatment.

“There is massive statistical evidence of the benefits of this centre and its location, but let’s not forget – each statistic is a person, and it is the human element that makes this a real success story for Derry,” he said.

The £50 million unit will be located beside and connected to the existing Cancer Unit - the Sperrin Suite.

Approximately 220 new posts across a range of specialities and disciplines will be created through the development of the new satellite centre which will open in mid-2016.