Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Tele helps to save Derry cancer care

Campaign is praised by minister

The Health Minister and the Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Services Trust have hailed a North West Telegraph campaign to save cancer testing and diagnosis services at Altnagelvin Hospital.



Minister Michael McGimpsey yesterday told staff at the multi-million pound lab - which opened in March - that their facility was safe.

The delighted WHSST chief executive, Elaine Way then told staff: "I feel like punching the air."

And she added: "The North West Telegraph ran a campaign to keep the services here and we welcome that."

Mr McGimpsey also admitted that he had taken notice of the Telegraph's campaign.

A Government review had recommended that histopathology and cytopathology services be centralised at £100m centres in Belfast and Dundonald, meaning that people in the North West facing diagnosis of cancers would face longer waits at an already stressful time.

However, after a huge response of almost 300 representations to a consultation process, the minister said the services would remain at Altnagelvin.

Dr Miriam McCarty, director of Secondary Care, revealed that the vast majority of representations to the wider consultation came from Derry.

Mr McGimpsey also backed our drive to keep vital cancer services in the North West.

"The Belfast Telegraph recently ran a poll showing that 79% of people see health as their number one issue," he said.

"The reaction to the consultation and the paper's campaign reflects how importantly people regard their own well-being and that of their family, friends and wider community."

North West Telegraph editor William Allen today said that the U-turn was a victory for locally accountable government.

He said: "The minister has listened to the anger of people in this area, and we are proud that our Save Our Services campaign played its part in making him aware of the issues and the strength of feeling about the recommendation to move some vital cancer services to Belfast."

Foyle MP Mark Durkan MLA has also welcomed the decision by the Minister for Health to retain pathology services at Altnagelvin Hospital.

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