Altnagelvin to get satellite radiotherapy centre

Posted on May 23, 2011

The newly-appointed Northern Ireland health minister, Edwin Poots, announced that he would be going ahead with the building of the proposed radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry.

Mr Poots said he anticipated completion of the construction of the unit in 2015 with the opening in mid-2016.

He spoke of meeting two patients, Pearse and Edna, at the City Hospital in Belfast. Mr Poots said Edna had told him she spent seven hours travelling to and from Belfast for 10 minutes treatment.

The chair of the health committee, Michelle Gildernew, said the announcement would be greeted with relief by people in the northwest. She expressed concern for patients who made a 160-mile round trip three or four times a week.

Jim Wells of the DUP sought assurance that the government of the Irish Republic would stick to the agreement to part-fund the radiotherapy unit.

The minister said he had spoken to the health minister in Dublin that very morning and he had confirmed that the 19m euro in capital funding would still be forthcoming.

Sam Gardiner of the UUP welcomed the announcement but wanted to know if the cost of the radiotherapy unit would have a detrimental effect on any other part of the health service.

Mr Poots said the day-to-day running of the radiotherapy unit amounted to 0.75% of his budget. It would not have any detrimental effect.

Numerous other MLAs spoke to welcome the announcement. They included the SDLP's Mark H Durkan who described it as "a victory for common sense".

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