Belfast Telegraph

Concerns at plan to close breast cancer centres in Northern Ireland

The Department of Health has proposed keeping three centres - Altnagelvin, Ulster and Antrim - and closing the remaining two at Belfast City Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital (stock photo)
The Department of Health has proposed keeping three centres - Altnagelvin, Ulster and Antrim - and closing the remaining two at Belfast City Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital (stock photo)
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Fresh concerns have been raised about plans to reduce the number of breast cancer assessment centres in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health has proposed keeping three centres - Altnagelvin, Ulster and Antrim - and closing the remaining two at Belfast City Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital.

It means many women will have to travel further, but the department says this will concentrate resources and patients will be seen within the 14 day target.

Donna Kearns (45) from Newry is supporting a campaign to save breast assessment services in Craigavon Area Hospital.

"I was red flagged and seen within 10 days and the target is 14 days for red flag referrals. As far as I'm concerned there's already a centre of excellence at CAH," she said

Alliance health spokeswoman, Paula Bradshaw MLA, said it was a "bizarre" decision to move services to the Ulster Hospital, with so many related services and expertise based at Belfast City.

Roisin Foster of Cancer Focus NI said: "We have some concerns that breast cancer assessment is being looked at in isolation from other breast cancer services, and we are puzzled by the direction some of the recommendations are moving in."

The Department has said the consultation was the result of several years' work by healthcare professionals. It said that given current pressures on the City Hospital, the Ulster would have greater capacity to take on the extra activity that would come with concentrating assessment at three sites.

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