New Derry unit ‘will save Donegal lives’

Noelle Duddy, Culdaff.

Noelle Duddy, Culdaff.

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Derry’s planned new radiotherapy unit will save Donegal lives. And the new unit has been hailed as a “template” for future cross-border healthcare projects.

Noelle Duddy, of the Donegal-based Co-operating for Cancer Care North West CCC (NW) group, says the regional centre - earmarked for completion in 2016 - will make a “big difference” to cancer patients’ lives.

She told the ‘Journal’ yesterday: “When it is operational, the majority of cancer patients in Donegal/NW requiring radiotherapy will be able to receive their treatment near to home, families and friends. We believe this unit will save and/or extend more patients’ lives.

“Patients who currently have to refuse treatment because they are unable to travel to Dublin, Galway or Belfast, will be able to accept and avail of treatment, thus improving their prognosis. Patients requiring palliative radiotherapy, to ease their pain, increase mobility and enhance their quality of lives in their final weeks/months, will be able to access treatment more easily.”

CCC (NW) has spent the past eight years lobbying for the location of a regional cancer treatment centre in the North West.

Ms. Duddy, from Culdaff, says that, as it stands, neither Donegal and its environs nor the Western Health Trust have a large enough population to safely sustain a radiotherapy unit.

“However, as a region, the North West’s population exceeds 500,000 and by joining together the populations on either side of the border, the ‘critical mass’ required to safely provide a cross border radiotherapy service, can be achieved. As a region, the North West is co-dependent on both jurisdictions accepting responsibility to provide its people with a radiotherapy unit. The NW is currently the only region on this island without reasonable access to radiotherapy services.”

Ms. Duddy believes the new unit could prove to be one of the most important healthcare developments to happen in the region.

“CCC(NW) believe increased North-South co-operation in healthcare is a win-win situation for everyone: for the patient, healthcare provider and tax payer on either side of the border.”