Inishowen cancer care activist, Noelle Duddy, has said she is ‘delighted’ the North’s Western Trust has made it clear that the border will not be an issue when it comes to cancer care at the new 27 bed Radiotherapy Treatment Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital due to open in Derry in 2016.
Ms Duddy, of Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest (CCCNW), said it had been made clear the border will not influence referrals which will be based solely on the clinical needs of the patient.
Her comments come after the first in a series of public consultation, on the proposed operation of the new unit, which was held at Da Vinci’s Hotel in Derry on Wednesday.
The consultations were warmly welcomed by both the Co-operating for Cancer Care NorthWest and the Derry based lobby group, The Pink Ladies who also lobbied for greater co-operation with those across the Border.
Spokesperson for The Pink Ladies, Karen Mullan pointed out Donegal patients will still have to travel to Galway or Dublin for their oncology consultations and for any chemotherapy treaments.
She still wanted, she said, a comprehensive cancer service unit for all the people of the north-west
“Though we are glad to have the radiotherapy service based in the North West, we should continue to work together to secure a full cancer treatment service in the North West.”
She did, however, express concerns that the opening of the unit has been delayed until 2016 - it was supposed to open in mid 2015.
Speaking after the meeting Ms Duddy said: “We started campaigning all those years ago and didn’t know where it would take us but by working together with the Trust look how far we’ve come? We are absolutely delighted that the Trust is taking our views on board.
“It is great too that they are taking on board the points of view of those who have already undertaken this (cancer) journey
“This is a great way to tailor the service to the best needs of those being treated. Simple things like the ambience of the centre will make a huge difference to those undergoing treatment.”
However the Pink Ladies indicated that they are to contact the North’s Health Minister in order to clarify the opening date which was pushed back from early 2015 to mid 2016.
Una Cardin, Western Trust Radiotherapy Unit Manager said: “The public focus group will give those who have been affected by cancer either in the past or currently, a chance to shape how this facility serves the community. Those who have been treated in other hospitals are invited along to share their experiences also and suggest how the centre could best meet their needs.”
The next consultation is taking place at the Waterfoot Hotel on Thursday March 14. More details are available on Trust website at www.westerntrust.hscni.net