SDLP: Eastwood calls for no delay in Altnagelvin radiotherapy centre

SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood
SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has called on Health Minister Edwin Poots to ensure there are no delays in the delivery of Altnagelvin Radiotherapy Centre.

Mr Eastwood made the appeal after Minister Poots revealed that a £1.1m funding package for part of the project is under threat with the potential to delay the opening of the centre.

Mr Eastwood said: “While I welcome the minister’s commitment to the delivery of this essential cross-border radiotherapy centre for the North West, it is important that there is no delay in the projected completion of the facility in 2016.

“The treatment of cancer patients from all over the North West cannot be allowed to be delayed due to a failure to deliver funding pledged for this life saving centre. Preparatory work is ongoing at the site and I would urge Mr Poots to ensure that work continues to deliver the project on time.”

Mr Eastwood criticised Mr Poots for suggesting that the failure to implement welfare reform measures was to blame for a range of health cuts he may now be forced to implement.

“The health minister has blamed a proposed range of cuts on the failure to implement welfare reform in Northern Ireland, but the figures don’t add up. The minister sought £160m in the June monitoring round and got £20m. However, a total of £78m was taken out of the entire Executive budget in the June round with a sizeable portion of that being paid in penalties to Westminster over the welfare reform situation. The shortfall in funding granted cannot be wholly blamed on the welfare reform situation. The amount of money sought by the minister raises questions over budget management in his department”