Taoiseach visits site of planned radiotherapy unit‬‪


Taoiseach visits site of planned radiotherapy unit‬‪

The Chairman of the Western Trust personally thanked Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD for his Government's commitment to the radiotherapy project at Altnagelvin when Mr Kenny visited the site of the new unit at the weekend.



Gerard Guckian welcomed Mr Kenny to the Sperrin Cancer Unit on Saturday (25 June) when the Taoiseach met patients from Omagh and Derry in Ward 43.‪ Mark Durkan MP and Junior Minister Martina Anderson MLA were among those welcoming the Taoiseach.



Mr Kenny was among the dignitaries to attend the official opening ceremony of the Peace Bridge across the River Foyle on Saturday before he came to Altnagelvin.‪



Reaffirming his Government's pledge to honour its commitment to the radiotherapy unit project fully, the Taoiseach said it would be of enormous benefit and it demonstrated the outcome of good politics and cooperation in the interest of people.‪



Addressing the Taoiseach, Gerard Guckian said: "We are absolutely delighted that you have taken time on what is a busy day marking a brighter future for Derry to visit Altnagelvin where we are looking forward to another major positive development for this region.



"In what are difficult financial economic times it is to your credit that your Government has given a commitment to provide funding for this project without which it would not have happened."‪



Mr Guckian commended the civil servants on both sides of the border who have been working to make the project happen. He also paid tribute to Noelle Duddy and Jim O'Donnell and all those involved in Cooperating for Cancer Care North West who have supported the project. Ms Duddy said the unit would make a powerful difference for people and is a fine demonstration of cross border working.‪ Enda Kenny TD visit



Mr Guckian continued: "The patient story has been central in making the case for the necessity of this radiotherapy unit. While we have obviously been mindful of our Altnagelvin patients who have to travel for treatment I am also acutely aware of the many patients in Donegal including the Inishowen area, from places like Malin, Buncrana and Moville who have had to contemplate even longer journeys to Dublin for radiotherapy. This unit is very much their's also."



Introducing Mr Kenny to clinical staff, Chief Executive Elaine Way said it was a privilege and an honour to have the Taoiseach visit the Western Trust.



"There was tremendous joy at the announcement that the radiotherapy unit project was moving forward not only among patients from the Western Trust and that part of the Northern Trust who will be availing of the unit but also in Donegal," Mrs Way told Mr Kenny.‪



Dr Feargal McNicholl, consultant haematologist, based in Sperrin Unit, Altnagelvin, went on to explain the current patient experience to the Taoiseach.



Dr McNicholl said: "We are serving a large population in the west where we have patients requiring radiotherapy treatment for lymphoma, myeloma and other cancers. This treatment might involve five minutes of radiotherapy every day for 18 days or more. The trip to Belfast for radiotherapy amounts to a round trip of more than four hours every day for these patients. They are often in pain, are worried about the financial cost of travel and want to avoid putting this extra stress on other family members who are helping. The travelling becomes a major issue and sometimes we have patients who decline beneficial radiotherapy treatment because of the travelling that would be involved. Having radiotherapy treatment closer, enabling the patient to travel home soon after will make a huge difference."‪



Mr Kenny concluded his visit to Altnagelvin by meeting Rita Devlin, from Omagh, and Patricia Campbell from Derry, patients in Sperrin Cancer Unit Ward 43‪.