The new Altnagelvin radiotherapy unit will provide a ‘Rolls Royce’ service for cancer sufferers in the north west, health chiefs have claimed.
The Western Health Trust’s chief executive Elaine Way led a delegation to Stormont to brief MLAs and MPs on progress with the unit.
Ms Way confirmed the £50m project was progressing on target, with work now under way to clear the site.
The cross-border centre will cater for 500,000 people across the west of Northern Ireland and also Donegal — all living within an hour’s journey.
It will mean cancer patients in the area will no longer have to make the long journeys to and from Belfast or Dublin for treatment.
The unit, which will be opened in 2016 on the Altnagelvin Hospital site, was only secured following a massive campaign led by cancer survivors in Derry and Donegal.
The new unit was designed to increase radiotherapy capacity in Northern Ireland, which is anticipated to exceed demand by 2015.
The building will be approximately 10,000sqm in size with 220 new specialist jobs being created.
Mrs Way said: “We are very excited about this new development which will meet the needs of the north west and add to the Northern Ireland radiotherapy capacity when it opens.”
By 2016, the Altnagelvin unit will have the capacity to treat 1,100 Northern Ireland patients and 400 Republic of Ireland patients a year.
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan urged Trust bosses to ensure the new unit is properly staffed and funded.
He said: “This centre will be the Rolls Royce of radiotherapy units, but there is no point having a Rolls Royce if you have no petrol, and the staff are the fuel to drive forward the unit.
“There is massive statistical evidence of the benefits of this centre but let’s not forget it is the human element that makes this a real success story for Derry.”
Treatment for all but the most complex of tumours will be delivered. The potential for additional chemotherapy services to transfer to Altnagelvin has also been examined.