New premises will provide better services, says chairman
Action Cancer has stood by its decision to spend £2m on a new treatment centre in Belfast.
In a statement to this paper, the charity's chairman, Norman Carson, said the premises would provide previously unavailable state-of-the-art treatment.
"The assertion that these services could have been provided at an office in a business park is wrong on several counts, not least the fact that it is not a suitable environment for cancer patients and their families to avail of counselling and complementary therapies," he added.
"Surroundings and atmosphere are extremely important. We know this from existing client feedback.
"The decision to buy and develop the building was taken after long, careful consideration and was approved by our council. Other premises proved to be unsuitable on a number of grounds, including issues with planning permission."
Mr Carson also insisted the individuals who gifted the £2.3m legacy to Action Cancer had indicated that "something significant should be done with it."
The charity's chairman explained the organisation had "outgrown" its present headquarters at Marlborough Park in Belfast after 40 years.
He warned that 100,000 people here were expected to be living with cancer by 2030, compared to the current 63,000, and highlighted that the charity had screened 11,000 women for breast cancer in the past year, up from 7,500 a few years ago.
"It is important to point out that the rental or sale of our current premises at Marlborough Park will provide an income to offset the cost of the new building," Mr Carson said.
"We take care to ensure that all the money we receive, thanks to the generosity of the Northern Ireland public, is used wisely and for the benefit of the greatest number of people. We believe the new premises fulfil these objectives and help us provide services that are fit for the future."