Revealed: £2m health campus for Altnagelvin

The planned new facilities as designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects.
The planned new facilities as designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects.
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Plans for a £2m new health and wellbeing campus for patients with cancer and other long-term illnesses at Altnagelvin Hospital have been unveiled.

The Western Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support have unveiled details of the new facilities for patients, carers and families affected by cancer and other long term conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis and hypertension.

Bronagh Corry, Gerard Guckian (Chair of WHSCT) and Paula Kealey (Macmillan)

Bronagh Corry, Gerard Guckian (Chair of WHSCT) and Paula Kealey (Macmillan)

The joint plans include the construction of a new £1 million purpose-built Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre.

This will be located beside Agnes Jones House, which will itself be refurbished and used as a centre for the management of other long term and chronic conditions.

The development will include an interlinking walkway and garden between the two buildings.

Construction work is due to begin this Autumn and it’s hoped the new campus will be fully operational by late 2016.

The radiotherapy unit will make such a difference to local people – and people living just across the border. It will take the burden of travel to Belfast or Dublin away. And the new health and wellbeing campus will help people after their treatment ends.

Bronagh Corry, Strabane mother-of-three

This will coincide with the opening of the new Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin.

The campus will provide a range of services designed to meet the needs of patients and their families, including information library facilities, wig fitting services, health and wellbeing clinics, complementary therapies, art therapy courses, gentle exercise classes and counselling sessions.

Western Trust Chairman, Gerard Guckian, said the plans represent another major chapter in the development of cancer services within the Trust:

“My view is that this has the capacity, along with our new Radiotherapy Centre, to transform cancer care in the North West of Ireland.

“The health and wellbeing campus will no doubt touch the lives of so many people in the Western Trust and in the Republic of Ireland for years to come.”

Local support groups will also be able to book rooms and organise meetings on site.

In all, Macmillan will be investing a total of £1.5 million in the project, while the Western Trust is contributing £500,000 from general capital and various Trust Funds.

Macmillan will also be supporting the development of local outreach information units in the entrance of the new Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin and other Trust facilities.

The leading cancer charity will be providing information points in GP Practices, libraries and community centres.

Local woman Bronagh Corry said the health and wellbeing campus will provide vital services for people living with cancer and long term conditions.

The Strabane mother-of-three was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. At the time, her youngest son was only two years old.

She said: “Everything I did, I did with my children in mind. So I decided I’d do whatever I had to, in order to get better.

“ In my case, that meant going to stay in Belfast for three weeks to get radiotherapy. I spent my 40th birthday in Belfast in accommodation provided by Friends of the Cancer Centre. It wasn’t easy to be away from home for all that time.

“The radiotherapy unit will make such a difference to local people – and people living just across the border. It will take the burden of travel to Belfast or Dublin away.

“And the new health and wellbeing campus will help people after their treatment ends. Learning to self manage your condition and getting help – whether it be information, benefits advice, counselling or access to exercise classes and patient support groups - is so important when you’re on the road to recovery.”