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Altnagelvin Hospital to get £5m for new cancer equipment

By Donna Deeney

Preparations to ensure a new radiotherapy centre at Altnagelvin Hospital opens in time have taken a major step forward after the Western Trust approved a £5m spend on high-tech equipment.

Key pieces of machinery have been procured, including three linear accelerator machines - highly advanced machines for cancer treatment.

The unit - which is being jointed funded by Stormont and the Irish Government - will be used by people from across the North West including Donegal and Sligo.

Construction work began earlier this year marking the conclusion of a long battle to secure a local cancer treatment centre.

It will mean patients will not have to make a daily three to four hour round trip for radiotherapy.

The go-ahead for the £5m spend will allay fears that health budget cuts push the opening of the unit back beyond 2016.

An additional £60m to the health budget allocated as a result of the £100m loan acquired by the finance minister from the Government has meant the funding deficit for the radiotherapy unit has now been filled.

Western Trust Radiotherapy unit manager Una Cardin said the purchase marked a milestone.

She added: "Varian Medical Systems UK have been selected to provide three specialist truebeam slim linear accelerators which are viewed as amongst the most technologically advanced treatment machines.

"These will deliver the most up to date types of radiotherapy treatments for patients attending the new unit when it opens in autumn 2016."

Project clinical advisor Dr David Stewart said: "This equipment will have the ability to provide respiratory gating, real-time tracking of tumours, imaging and treatment delivery to create a streamlined system."

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