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"Cancer patients more important than roads" 12.11.07

AN Independent MEP has welcomed moves to build a radiotherapy centre at Altnagelvin Hospital for cross-border cancer patients including those from Inishowen.
However, Marian Harkin MEP, warned that outcomes for Donegal patients would remain less favourable unless the measures were not introduced quickly and in tandem with breast screening.
She said if the Irish Government could commit to a €400m roads budget for the North, they should be prepared to invest in saving cancer patients' lives.
“The people of the North West, on both sides of the border, have been discriminated against by their health authorities.
"If our Government is prepared to invest €400 million in the roads of Northern Ireland, they should be prepared to invest the necessary funds to provide vital cancer services in the region," she said.
She said it was important any cross-border facility had plenty of capacity.
“In July 2005 when Minister Harney announced that the people of Donegal would have access to radiotherapy services in Belfast I asked for a guarantee that this would be available to all seeking it.
"It is worrying to hear now that there is a capacity problem in Belfast."
She said it was "absolutely urgent" that talks with the Northern Ireland health authorities progressed to the next stage.
“Already the roll out of BreastCheck to the North West has been delayed by two years and this continues a pattern of health service discrimination which is particularly punitive on the people of Donegal,” she added.
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